SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Everyone knows that winter can bring driving challenges, with snow and ice sometimes covering the roadways. But did you know that fall can be just as hazardous?

Those beautiful colorful leaves that we all admire can cause slippery roads, especially after a rainfall. Wheels can easily lose traction when driving over them, especially if you’re going at a high rate of speed. Those leaves can also cover up traffic lines and mask potholes and other hazards. Children also like to play in leaf piles, so don’t ever drive over one.

In addition, fall means that kids are back in school and playing sports, so there are more cars and buses on the roads. Keep in mind that it’s not only illegal, but dangerous to pass a school bus when its lights are flashing.  Being later for work or an appointment isn’t worth risking a child’s safety. Open schools bring more pedestrian traffic as well, especially in the mornings and early afternoons.

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Fall is also deer mating season, and those gentle creatures can cause major accidents when running out into the roads. Keep your eyes open, especially around dawn and dusk. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cautions that you're 3.5 times more likely to hit an animal — especially a deer — in November than at any other time of the year.

Another important thing to do is to check your tire pressure. According to AARP, “Since fall weather rapidly changes from warm to cold, your tires will often expand and contract. This can lead to a loss of pressure.” Improperly inflated tires can lead to loss of control if you need to make a sudden stop and even cause blowouts. Also make sure the treads on your tires are sufficient to maintain traction on the road.

So, what can you do to keep yourself and others on the road safe this season and all year long?

Drive a little slower, keep your distance from the car in front of you, maintain your vehicle properly, including keeping the windshields clean, and as always, pay attention to your driving and environment, whether it be road conditions, other drivers, pedestrians or wildlife. 

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer emergency calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. 

In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Our Auxiliary Group holds fund raisers and provides other much needed support for our members. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you, or if you would like to become a part of our organization. Call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com.

Susan Baldani is a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.