The fall foliage in Indiana offers a breathtaking view for both residents and visitors. Before we know it, those illuminating red, yellow, and orange leaves will end up in the roads — especially in heavily-wooded areas.
For those who never experienced the dangers of driving on wet leaves before, this may not seem like a big deal. Believe it or not, driving on wet, fallen leaves can be just as risky as driving on ice.
How can wet fallen leaves be dangerous for drivers?
A video released by the Weather Channel explains the risk of driving on wet fallen leaves by using a 3D model of an SUV traveling 45 mph on a rural road. On a perfectly dry roadway without fallen leaves, car travelling at 45 mph would only need about 80 feet to come to a complete stop.
Once the SUV approaches a stretch of the roadway covered in fallen leaves, the distance required to come to a complete stop more than doubles to 200 feet. According to the Weather Channel video, stopping distance increases due to the wax coating on all fallen leaves, which causes leaves to repel water or slide on the surface of the road. This creates conditions of poor traction, similar to driving on ice.
When areas with fallen leaves aren't approached with caution, drivers may lose control of their vehicles and potentially spinout. When brakes are applied abruptly, drivers will likely skid. Watch the video below to see for yourself:
Other risk factors to consider when driving this fall
Now that you know how wet fallen leaves can contribute to a crash, it's important to consider other risk factors that can come into play.
As we progress through the fall season, the days will continue to get shorter, especially after we set our clock back for daylight savings. When approaching fallen leaves on the road, visibility will be an issue. According to the National Safety Council, nighttime visibility for the average driver is 250 feet with normal headlights and 500 feet with high-beams. Reduced visibility means less time to prepare for what's to come.
In addition, temperatures dip below freezing often this time of year during the overnight and early morning hours. When this happens, fallen leaves in wet areas will make it difficult to spot black ice. Furthermore, leaves can cover potholes and other defects in the roadway, which can result in a tire blowout or loss of vehicle control. The mitigate the likelihood of a crash, drivers should reduce their speed and stay attentive.
The car accident attorneys at Vaughan & Vaughan hope everyone has a safe fall season. In the event you or a loved one is hurt in a crash, contact our Lafayette law office and schedule your free case evaluation.