Fall is officially here and across the U.S. — northern states, in particular — trees are shedding their leaves ahead of winter. That poses a potentially serious risk for truckers, in more ways than you might expect.
While a pile of leaves by the side of the road, or even in it, might not seem like a big deal, it's certainly something you have to pay attention to, for all the following reasons:
1) They can make you lose traction
First and foremost, treat leaves in or near the road in much the same way you would a puddle or a visible patch of ice, according to Element Fleet. Especially when they're obviously wet, but even when they're not, rolling your tires over a patch of leaves can cause them to slip, and potentially make you lose control of your truck. In fact, experts say in the right conditions, wet leaves can be just as dangerous as black ice.
2) They can hide dangerous road conditions
You just never know what's under a big pile of leaves. It could be a potentially sizable pothole, a puddle or just less obtrusive road damage that can do a number on your truck and, here too, cause you to potentially lose control, Element Fleet advised. As such, you shouldn't power through the pile given what dangers may lie underneath. Do whatever you can to drive around them, instead.
3) They can attract kids
While you certainly shouldn't think that there are going to be kids playing in the road, there's a higher likelihood that they might be near it when there's big piles of leaves nearby, according to Aceable. This might just require a little extra caution and vigilance, but if there are piles fairly close to your lane, it's best to give them a wide berth, just in case. Especially with kids, you can't always expect the best judgment.
4) They can damage your truck's paint job
Here's a little-known fact: Wet leaves are extremely damaging to a vehicle's paint and protective coatings, according to Geico. On a rainy, windy autumn day, plenty of leaves may get stuck to your vehicle and it's always a good idea to clear them off so the acid in them doesn't do costly and unsightly damage.
5) They can be a fire hazard
If there are a lot of dried leaves on the ground, as becomes common later in the autumn months, they can create fire risk if you're not careful about where you park, Geico added. If you stop on top of a pile of leaves — and especially if you keep your motor running when you do so — the heat your engine lets off can create a combustible situation that puts you and your vehicle, and even others, in danger. The easy way to avoid this risk is to make sure you don't park directly above a bunch of dry leaves.
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