Jesse Jones

‘Keep a safe distance’: We talk to an expert about staying safe on the road with fall weather

SEATTLE — It’s daylight savings time. That means commuting home in the dark almost every day.

Patrick Olsen, Editor of Carfax, says 2022 service records show that nearly three-quarters of Americans wound up in more accidents in the fall than in any other season. He says a driver in the U.S. is twice as likely to have an accident in the dark as they are in the daylight.

A recent study of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, from the firm Richmond Vona, shows Washington state with the third most dangerous weather for drivers in the country, with 16% of all fatal car accidents occurring in bad weather.

“We crunched the numbers from records from 2022 for millions of service records and determined that nearly three-quarters of Americans wound up in more accidents in the fall than any other season.”

Typically we think of slowing down when there’s black ice. But Patrick Olsen says wet leaves are just as dangerous.

“I know that kind of sounds innocuous, but driving on wet leaves is like driving on ice. So a car normally going at highway speeds, stopping on a dry road would take about 80 feet to stop. If you hit wet leaves, it takes about 200 feet to stop. So there are a lot of factors that make fall much more dangerous,” he says.

Here are some tips from Carfax to keep you safe on the road.

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Check tire pressure, especially during sudden temperature drops.
  • Replace old wipers.
  • Check your battery.
  • Always keep an emergency kit.

And if you happen to get into an accident, Personal Injury Attorney, Erik Ladenburg, says take pictures of everything, including the other driver.

“Everybody knows to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles. But it’s also important to take photographs of the scene and the driver. Most people wouldn’t think about that. But it’s important to know who that driver is, what they look like if that person has to be served later on in a lawsuit,” he says.

Another important aspect that people don’t always think about – are you properly insured? One out of five drivers in our state are uninsured. The state-required minimum liability is only going to cover you for $25k and that amount has not changed since the 80s.