Don’t leave driving safety to chance this fall

USAG Wiesbaden Safety Office
Wet leaves on the roadway can become slippery, especially if the temperature drops below freezing. Drivers are advised to reduce speed and allow ample stopping time.

As weather and road conditions change with the season, following fall driving safety tips will keep everyone safe as they enjoy the beautiful colors of the autumn leaves.

Leaves on the road
When leaves accumulate on the roadway and become wet, they can become extremely slippery, making the driving conditions similar to driving on ice. If the temperature drops below freezing, the wet leaves will freeze and turn into dangerous icy leaves on the roadway. Besides reducing the car’s traction, causing skidding and the possibility of losing control of the vehicle, leaves often cover painted road markings, making it difficult to know the locations of the lanes.

  • Drivers should slow down when driving on a road covered with leaves, especially around turns. Posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds is the best precautionary measure against misfortune while driving on slippery roads.
  • Allow plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road.
  • Keep windshields leaf free to avoid wet leaves getting stuck under the wiper blades.

Changing conditions

  • In many areas, autumn is a damp, wet season. Many days and nights are rainy or foggy. As temperatures drop at night, frost often coats the ground.
  • Drive slowly and break gently at overpasses and bridges as these areas frost over more quickly than other roadway surfaces.
  • Use rear fog lights only if the visibility is less than 50 meters (164 feet).
  • Be aware of areas where black ice may form on the roadway.
  • Watch out for wildlife; reduce speed when passing a deer crossing sign.
  • Do not avoid collision with a deer — it is better to hit an animal than the ditch or a tree.
  • Call the military police or Polizei after a collision.

Vehicle maintenance

  • Keep headlights clean and in proper working order, making sure they are adjusted.Keep headlights clean and in proper working order, making sure they are adjusted.
  • Replace windshield wiper blades if they show any signs of wear.
  • German law requires vehicles have “adequate tires” for winter driving. Snow tires or all-season tires with an “M/S” label are acceptable in the Wiesbaden area.
  • Before traveling to other European countries, check online for their requirements; not all European countries have the same laws.