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The Biggest Road Hazards in the Fall

This Sunday we will be once again turning our clocks forward for daylight savings. While many look forward to the extra hour of sleep, for many of us on Long Island, daylight savings means driving home from work with the sun already setting. This along with other changing weather conditions can cause driving in the fall dangerous. No one wants to be in a car accident, especially if it could be prevented.

Daylight Savings Means Less Daylight

On November 4, the clocks will be moving back one hour. Unlike daylight savings in the Spring, we won’t be more tired or have a hard time waking up. This does mean however, that the sun will rise and set one hour earlier everyday. Unlike the gradual changes in the sunrise/sunset schedule that we adjust to naturally, many will suddenly be leaving work in the dark. On Monday November 5, the sun will now begin to set at 4:47pm in New York and will be completely dark by 6:20.

The difference between driving at night (let’s say 10:00pm) and driving in darkness in the late afternoon is the amount of people on the road. When it is late, there is generally much less drivers on the road and a lot less cyclists and pedestrians. After daylight savings, it will begin to get dark during a time when a lot of people are still out. It is even early enough for the sun to go down with some of these cyclists or pedestrians being students in school. We previously have spoken about accounting for school pedestrians in a previous blog post. Moreover, an adjustment needs to take place for drivers to be prepared for the change in road conditions. Here are some tips we suggest for the earlier sunset.

  • Adjust Sleep Schedule. Try to adjust to your sleep schedule as soon as possible. Go to bed as at the same time you normally would as if the clocks never changed. Even though you gain an extra hour any change in sleep schedule can affect you.
  • Look out for Pedestrians. Be especially alert at crosswalks and street corners. Make sure you stop before the crosswalk begins so that other cars can easily see pedestrians. Make sure to listen to the instructions of the crossing guards as you approach school zones.
  • Don’t Tailgate. Although this is always important, stay a safe difference from the car in front of you. Rush hour traffic often makes tailgating tempting but doing so in the dark is especially dangerous.
  • Wash your car. In this case, specifically your headlights, brake-lights, and signals. You want to be just as visible as everyone else. You should also care for your windshield. Visibility is most important, so make sure you have enough wiper fluid and to replace your wipers every six months.
  • Bring sunglasses. The sun will now be setting around the time most people are driving home from work. Sun glare is a big road hazard as it makes visibility very difficult. In New York at this time of year the sun can easily set lower than what a sun visor can cover. Therefore, bringing sunglasses can prevent you from being blinded while driving.

Leaves on the Ground

Fall is a beautiful time of year due to the changing of leaves. But we are reaching the time of the year where all of those leaves are falling to the ground. When a Nor-Easter hits, there are wet leaves everywhere. Some have even said that wet leaves on the ground are just as dangerous as black ice on the road. Wet leaves are dangerous in two ways; they are slippery and they cover up the roads.

It is a good idea to pretend that you are driving on ice when you see leaves on the road. Drive slower and increase your breaking distance. Do not make sharp or fast turns so that you don’t slide. Give yourself ample room behind cars. Do not quickly change lanes, especially if you can’t see the road lines. The leaves can cover up lines in the road so do your best to pay attention to the road lines when approaching a stop sign or at turning lanes.

Dropping Temperature

The days are only getting colder and drivers need to be prepared ahead of time as the temperatures drop. The first change you might notice is your tire pressure. The drop in temperature sometimes causes the tires to expand and contract. So take note of the tire pressure light and take care of that right away.

When it is very cold, it is a good idea to get in the habit of turning your car on before you head out. If it does frost, your windshield may be covered with ice that needs to melt before you start driving. Additionally, when the steering wheel is very cold, drivers often try not to touch it too much until the car warms up, and this can be dangerous. Turning your car just 10 minutes before you leave means that it will be nice and toasty when you are ready to go.


Deer on Long Island is always a real hazard, especially if you live out east. Long Island highways are “greener” than most so it is not uncommon to see deer grazing by the highways. This is especially important to note because autumn is the beginning of breeding season for deer, and are most active at sunset. So be prepared to see even more deer near the roads on your way home from work. If you see a deer road sign, you should slow down. You should also slow down if you see a deer on the side of a road, it could possibly mean that the rest of the family is nearby.

Keeping these things in mind could potentially avoid a car accident and would contribute to making the roads a little bit safer. Unfortunately, sometimes we get injured in accidents when someone else is not being so safe. That is why it is our priority at Palermo Law to help people who have been injured in a car accident because of someone else’s recklessness.