Vibrant reds, yellows and golds abound in the view through the windshield as we travel the country. Temperature changes rapidly when the sun goes down or as we climb in elevation. Parents are relieved because they know where their kids are for at least eight hours a day. Flocks of birds and butterflies fill the sky as they migrate south to avoid the icy, approaching winter. Our noses are tingled with the sometime acrid smell of burning leaves. Stores put away their lawn chairs and suntan lotion and refill their shelves with Halloween candy and cold weather items.
It is autumn. Truckers change with the seasons like the trees. We gather up our heavier clothing and put it on the truck, hang tire chains, start adding fuel additives and check to make sure the hot water valves are turned on to our heaters. Those of us with bug screens for the radiator will be digging the winter covers out. Smart drivers will be adding their winter supplies to the truck…non perishable foods and water, extra blankets, ice melt and of course winter boots.
Autumn brings on some extra driving challenges. Here are a few to watch out for:
School buses and walking children
Deer crossing the road
Morning frost on the roadways
Leaves piled up in wooded areas on the highway, wet leaves on the pavement can be slick as ice
Frost on the windshield
The Autumn brings Halloween time and that holiday seems to bring out the worst in some people. One must watch overpasses more carefully than normal for dropped or hanging objects. Two of the biggest scares I have ever had driving concerned Halloween time. I was approaching an underpass at night both times. The first time I was driving a semi and someone thought it would be funny to drop a scarecrow off the overpass as I started under it. I thought someone was committing suicide and locked it down. Luckily the road was dry and no one was close behind me. I hit the scarecrow dead on and you can imagine the relief combined with anger I felt when it exploded in a burst of straw instead of body parts! The other incident was when I was helping out a friend by driving her hotshot rig for a couple of weeks and was a lot more dangerous. It was a one-ton pickup with a 40’ flatbed trailer. As I went under an overpass on I-40 near Jackson TN, someone had hung a large steel nut from fishing line from the overpass. It took out my passenger side windshield splattering glass all over the inside of the truck. I was lucky and wasn’t injured, but it could have been different. Many pumpkins end up being thrown off of overpasses and can become a hazard not only from the impact of hitting a windshield, but can also cause slickness on the pavement possibly causing a tire to spin. Some think it funny to have a ghost attached to a rope and allow it to swing out at a driver as they go under an overpass or under low hanging trees. It isn’t the imagined ghosts and goulies one has to watch out for.
Anytime over pass tips: Watch the overpasses as you approach. If you see someone suspicious on the bridge, switch lanes, slow down and keep watching. If someone does throw something off at you, or if you observe something hanging down, by all means dial 911. Many people have been hurt or killed by thrown or hanging objects from overpasses.
Deer crossing the road kill many people each year and cost untold vehicle damage. I hit a big buck just a week or two ago that took out the grill on the truck. If you see a deer on the side of the road, slow down. If it runs out in front of you…HIT THE DEER! The action that kills many people is swerving to avoid the deer and they end up losing control of the vehicle. Remember, if you see one deer, it is probable that there is another one somewhere around.
School buses are everywhere this time of year and on through to spring. Kids run out around them to get to their houses without taking the time to check traffic, assuming that everyone is stopped. Remember that you must stop for a stopped school bus…many states require all lanes to stop. Use your flashers when slowing down and while stopped, you may be blocking another’s view of the bus. Also remember that the driver has many little distractions and may make a mistake…be alert and help keep the kids safe. Kids are walking to and from school this time of year also. Watch out for them!
We all know how kids might engage in horseplay and accidentally push another kid off the sidewalk or side of the road. Many kids walk home in the dusk after sports practice too…a smaller child is harder to see in low light conditions.
Autumn brings many good things, football, glorious colors and cooler weather. Enjoy the views from your windshields as you safely navigate through the autumn scenery.