The dog days of summer are finally giving way to Autumn, and soon, trees around New York will display deep shades of orange, vibrant red, and glittering gold. Although most people associate New York with the Big Apple and skyscrapers brushing the sky, the state also boasts impressive fall foliage. It is one of the Northeast’s ideal locations for what many people affectionally call “leaf peeping.” A popular pastime for locals and tourists alike, leaf-peeping is an exciting and beautiful way to explore New York. However, this activity is not without its dangers.
The changing light and weather conditions mixed with drivers distracted by Mother Nature’s most spectacular fashion show can create hazardous road conditions for New York drivers. At Finz & Finz, P.C., we want to encourage motorists to enjoy everything New York leaf-peeping offers while staying safe on state roadways.
What Is Leaf Peeping?
Before pumpkin spice, fall was synonymous with changing leaves, from the deep reds of the marvelous maple to the deep and dramatic purples of the white oak. Autumn in New York is the best time to get out and explore the state, taking in the kaleidoscope of colors dotting the landscaping.
Leaf-peeping is viewing and photographing the changing fall foliage from vibrant green into the warm reds and golds associated with Autumn. The National Park Service calls leaf peeping one of the most popular recreational activities in national parks nationwide during the Fall season.
What Makes Leaf Peeping Dangerous?
Although it’s a relaxing way to return to nature and enjoy the outdoors in New York, leaf peeping can be dangerous. There are several potential hazards people need to be aware of before they hit the road and explore the New York countryside. First, remember that autumn heralds new weather patterns, bringing the potential for colder temperatures, fog, rain, and dangerous driving conditions. Fall is also the last gorgeous gasp before winter settles into the region. Leaves may be dressed to the nines in gorgeous colors one day and then litter the ground the next, covering potholes, hiding traffic lines, and obscuring pavement markers.
In addition to changing weather conditions, the shift from summer to fall equinox also means changes in lighting conditions. The sun sets earlier, meaning some drivers may experience sun blindness while exploring the countryside. Sun blindness or sun glares occurs when the sun shines directly into the driver’s eyes during sunrise and sunset, making it harder to see the road and potential hazards. Fall is also prime deer breeding season. Deer and other animals are more active during dawn and dusk, golden hours for leaf-peeping enthusiasts.
Distracted driving can also make leaf peeping a dangerous activity. Drivers awed by the majesty of autumn colors may not focus their full attention on their surroundings. Drivers engaged in any secondary activity, even leaf peeping, increase their risk of being involved in a significant distracted driving accident.
How to Stay Safe While Leaf Peeping in New York
Leaf peeping is a wonderful way to get out and explore New York. Taking a few precautions before you hit the road can help ensure that your leaf-peeping adventure is safe for you and other drivers. Consider these tips to help you stay safe this fall:
- Deer and other animals are most active at dusk and dawn. When driving early in the morning or later in the evening, proceed with caution and slow down. Deer also tend to travel in groups. If you see one, there is a good chance more are nearby.
- If you encounter deer on the road, brake, don’t swerve. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Apply the brakes, stay in your lane, and honk one long horn blast to scare the deer away.
- Leave more space between you and other vehicles. Slick roads, wet leaves, and distracted drivers can lead to accidents. Give yourself more time to react and leave additional space between you and other cars.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun glare early in the morning and later in the evening.
- Fall also means that school is back in session. Look out for children, pedestrians, and buses on your rural route to see the foliage.
- Check your tire pressure before you leave on your expedition. Colder autumn temperatures can affect tire pressure, dropping pounds per square inch or PSI by one to two pounds for every ten degrees the temperature drops. Improperly inflated tires can lead to irregular wear and tire damage and may result in sudden tire failure.
- Use your headlights. At dusk, dawn, and in foggy weather conditions, make sure you use your headlights so you can see the road and other drivers can see you.
- Frosty morning as you head out to see the leaves? Clear your windshield of all obstructions like ice and light snow.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Some routes through prime leaf-peeping territory are winding and dangerous. Consider your surroundings and look for sudden drop-offs, road obstructions, potholes, and wildlife. If you want to soak up the beauty of fall, find a safe place to pull off the road, take pictures, and enjoy the view.
- Avoid distractions. A distracted driver is a dangerous driver. Plan your route in advance and allow time for frequent stops to take in the beauty of the leaves. Never take pictures while driving, and exercise extra caution around other drivers.
Best Places in New York to Go Leaf Peeping
The I Love New York Fall Foliage Report is an excellent resource for those looking to get out and enjoy the gorgeous colors of fall. You can find up-to-date maps and detailed information about which areas of the state are experiencing changing color conditions.
The New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Service also has detailed information about the best fall walks and hikes in New York.
Injured in an Accident? Contact an Experienced New York Car Accident Attorney Today
Unfortunately, you can take every precaution we’ve outlined and still be on the receiving end of a significant car accident. If your dream leaf-peeping trip turns into a nightmare, discuss your situation with an experienced New York car accident lawyer from Finz & Finz. P.C. We want to help you recover the compensation you need to move on with your life following a New York car accident.
Contact our Manhattan office today to arrange a free case review.