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Enjoy the fall colors—but keep safety on your mind

Added October 24, 2018
Leaves on the road

Autumn is perhaps the best season for motorcycle riding. Many riders cherish this time of year, since the shortening days remind us winter is fast approaching. And that includes taking in the magnificent show of bright fall colors that turn every tree-lined road into a scenic drive. But as motorcycle riders, we need to remember that within the beauty of nature’s fall extravaganza, there are hazards unique to the season.

Fallen leaves are beautiful—but dangerous

All those multicolored leaves on the trees eventually turn brown and fall to the ground. Heavy rainstorms quickly bring down lots of leaves and leave them wet for days. Those wet leaves can be as slick as oil on the road and can significantly reduce your motorcycle’s traction. Be particularly aware when:

  • Braking, where they can cause you to skid
  • Riding through corners, when leaning already uses a good measure of your tires’ traction
  • Stopping or maneuvering to park your motorcycle, when your foot can slip

Dry leaves are also a concern. When they’re on the road, they can conceal surface hazards like:

  • Potholes, gravel, and other debris
  • Oil and antifreeze spills at traffic stops
  • Speed bumps
  • Pre-formed thermoplastic road markings

Piles of leaves alongside the road can also conceal hazards like:

  • Rain gullies
  • Broken sewer grates
  • Fallen tree limbs
  • Young children playing or hiding in the leaves

Beware of leaf-looking drivers

Motorcycle riders aren’t the only ones out enjoying the fall foliage. You should expect to encounter other drivers who may be distracted by the colorful leaves. Keep an eye out for leaf-looking drivers in front and behind you, as well as in oncoming traffic. Here are some common signs:

  • Vehicles wandering in their lane or greatly varying their speed
  • Drivers looking or pointing at the trees
  • Out-of-state license plates in popular foliage tourism areas

Enjoy these wonderful crisp days of autumn and the beauty of fall by being an alert motorcycle rider.

Till next time, ride safe!

Related links:

Road surface hazards are lurking out there throughout the year. Here are more articles on how to deal with some of them:

Four winter surface hazards to avoid on your motorcycle

Why you need to keep road salt off your motorcycle