Two of my favourite times of year are upon us – Halloween this Sunday followed by the end of Daylight Saving Time next Sunday. While adorable ghouls and goblins and an extra hour of sleep are both delightful, these events also bring with them some safety challenges for drivers, so I thought now would be a great time for a general refresher on safe driving in the fall.
Keep your car clean
As the days get darker and rainier, seeing and being seen on the road is important. Keep your windshield, windows, headlights and taillights clean and, if you’re like me and park on a street full of majestic maples, make sure your car is clear of leafy debris. Fall leaves can be a visual hazard and, left on too long, can damage the finish on your car.
Eliminate distractions in the car
Despite hefty fines in some areas for distracted driving, I still see folks gently drifting into other lanes while they’re on their phones. Put the phone away and focus on the road.
Slow down, especially in residential neighbourhoods
This is particularly relevant for Halloween, where you may find little witches and warlocks darting out from between parked cars or crossing in the middle of the street. Plus, with twilight coming earlier after next weekend, it may be harder to see cyclists or your dog-walking neighbour. It's up to you to be on alert!
Don’t drive tired
This applies to every time you drive but with the end of Daylight Saving Time, your circadian rhythms will be disrupted, leading to slower reflexes and poorer decision-making ability.
Try to go to bed at your usual time next weekend (instead of staying up for that extra “free” hour) and remember that it can take up to two weeks for your body to adjust to the time change.
Leave extra time to get where you’re going
Being in a rush rarely leads to great driving choices. As the days get shorter, routes you’re used to driving in daylight may get more challenging. Be sure to:
- leave extra time to clean your car if necessary;
- take a moment to get into mental “driving mode” before your drive; and
- try to stay chill on the road.
A final tip: as autumn comes to a close, check out our checklist for preparing your vehicle for Canadian winter.
How do you adjust your driving routine when the days start to shorten? Let us know in the comments!