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Oct 14, 2015

Autumn is upon us – tips for outdoor activities and driving

Autumn means several beautiful things, like colourful foliage, delicious turkey, pumpkin pie, hot drinks and nice and comfy sweaters. But for drivers, autumn also brings a whole range of dangers to the roads. Get yourself and your family ready for the Fall driving season by keeping these tips in mind to prevent accidents during this time of year.

  • Back to school traffic means more cars and buses on the roads. Watch out for more pedestrians as children walk to and from school.
  • Also be aware of school buses and crosswalks, and know how to deal with them lawfully and safely. In Ontario, misbehaving motorists will face higher fines under new laws that came into effect in September 2015 (for infractions such as distracted driving, keeping a safe distance from school buses and bicycles, etc.)
  • If you are the pedestrian or bicycle rider, be as visible and careful as possible when you are on the road.
  • Keep your walkways and driveways clear. As the leaves start to fall, they can make a slippery mess on your driveway and walkways. Likewise, prepare now for the below freezing days on the horizon – keep salt or sand at the ready to control icy patches where you, your family and neighbours will be walking.
  • Heavy rain can be particularly dangerous as water pools on top of dust and oil making the roads very slippery.
  • Fall foliage is certainly beautiful but as leaves fall, they cover the roads and make it difficult to see the traffic lines and other markings. And when it rains, it makes the leaves on the road as dangerous as ice. Give yourself extra space between cars for any sudden stops.
  • Fall mornings often bring fog, which can limit visibility and depth perception. When driving through fog, do not use your high beams as they will bounce off the fog and create glare. During the fall, temperatures drop at night creating frost and icy spots on the road.
  • Deer activity is also high during the fall season as it is their time to mate and migrate. Be on the lookout if you are in an area where there are typically deer around.
Top tips for driving safely in the fall
  • Watch your speed
  • Keep your distance
  • Use low beams (i.e. in fog)
  • Approach traffic lights with caution;
  • Watch for wildlife; and
  • Finally, prepare your car in advance by:
    • checking your tire tread and inflation
    • checking your headlights and fog lights
    • making sure your windows and mirrors are not fogged up and are cleared of any frost before departing for your destination.

Staying safe and active outside as the days get cooler and shorter 

Apart from changes to our driving habits, autumn often requires us to make changes in our lifestyles or routine due to weather, school activities, and upcoming holidays. Here are some tips to stay active and safe outside at this time of year: 

  • Be as active as possible on a daily basis, whether out or indoors. 
  • Make fall yard work fun by providing your children with rakes and other tools that are kid-sized for comfort and safety. Keep your driveway and walkway clear of falling leaves, as much as possible. 
  • Dress the part: Wear lightweight clothes that keep you warm enough without trapping sweat when you are active outside. Shoes should be supportive and comfortable, and should have slip-proof soles in case you come across a patch of wet leaves. 
  • Do a pre-rake warm-up: It may not seem like a workout, but you can burn nearly 300 calories during an hour of raking! Walk around a bit before you start so your blood gets flowing. Do a couple of stretches to prevent straining the muscles of your shoulders, neck, and back. Side bends and knee-to-chest lifts help open you up and ready you for all of the raking, bending, and lifting you’ll do. 
  • Most of all: enjoy this time of year by getting outside!

This article was originally published in our Fall 2015 issue of Mosaic newsletter.


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