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Beware autumn's slippery road conditions

The change of seasons is generally a wonderful thing. Something we may not consider, however, is how the change affects driving - even though it's not winter yet.

With the transition from summer to fall, rain showers tend to become more frequent, which can result in standing water on roadways. As little as one-twelfth of an inch of water can cause vehicles to hydroplane once speeds reach 35 miles per hour. When a car or truck hydroplanes, traction with the road is lost. The vehicle could then skid or careen out of control.

The transition to fall also brings falling leaves. Damp roads cause falling leaves to stick to road surfaces, creating a slippery coating. If tires hit these slick spots, it's almost like driving over ice. Skids and spin-outs can occur, both of which can easily result in wrecks with serious injuries.

Though crashes are always a possibility, especially when rainy conditions occur, there are ways to stay safe:

  • Use extra care when you encounter fallen leaves in the roadway.
  • Use your headlights when visibility is low and any time you need to consistently use your windshield wipers. (Tennessee law requires this, under potential penalty of a misdemeanor conviction; see Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-9-406(b) to learn more.)
  • Don't rely on cruise control when driving in rain or through standing water. If your vehicle hydroplanes, you will waste precious seconds trying to disengage the cruise in order to lower your speed and steer into a skid.
  • Reduce your speed. Slippery, wet road conditions call for longer stopping times. By going a bit slower than normal, you are creating a "buffer" zone should you need to brake suddenly.
  • Focus on the road. Distracted driving is always dangerous, but the risks magnify in inclement weather. You need your attention to be on the road should you hydroplane or need to stop quickly, if traffic levels change, or in case a sudden downpour impacts visibility.

Wrecks are common in wet or slippery conditions. The presence of fallen leaves on the road increases the chances of wrecks occurring. Even if you follow all the rules and drive responsibly, others may not. . If you or someone you love is injured in a Tennessee car crash, contact an experienced local personal injury attorney for help and guidance.

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