Motorists must be extremely careful now during fall and be aware of additional dangers on the streets. There are fog, storm, black ice and deer passing.
Automobile clubs and Polizei officials give recommendations on how to get safely through the fall season.
Whenever there is dense fog, a general rule is to slow down, drive even more carefully, and always have the lights turned on. Adjust speed to range of sight. If visibility is only 50 meters ahead, don’t drive faster than 50 kilometers per hour. If it is 100 meters, don’t drive faster than 80 kph, and if visibility is 150 meters, don’t drive faster than 100 kph. Focus on the safety poles, not the center stripes. The poles on the right side always have rectangular reflectors, and those on the left have two round reflectors. The density of fog can be estimated by the distance of those safety poles. On regular roads, the distance between two poles is 25 meters and on the autobahn it’s 50 meters.
A reduced speed during bad visibility or while driving through forests is also needed for another reason: With less daylight, animals become active later in the morning and earlier at night.
If animals suddenly appear, motorists should brake immediately, turn down the lights and blow the horn. They should not swerve and lose control. On streets with deer crossing traffic signs, drivers should drive in a cautious and anticipating way.
If a collision with an animal happens, the warning lights have to be turned on and the vehicle has to be secured. Injured persons have to be taken care of and the police have to be called. The animal should not be touched. Foxes can be infected with rabies and deer, apparently unconscious, can kick out. It’s considered poaching if somebody takes the deer and puts it in the trunk. This results in the confiscation of the vehicle and a fine. In some cases, a prison sentence of up to five years is possible. Car owners need written confirmation by the police or the lease holder for hunting in the area so comprehensive insurance will pay for the damage. The lease holder is obliged to find an animal that got hit and hurt and put it out of its misery.
If possible, motorists should take a photo of the location of accident and the animal. As soon as possible, the insurance agency should be contacted.
In 2015, more than 230,000 motorists had accidents caused by animals in Germany. Insurance agencies had to pay a total of 575 million Euro for the damages.
Autumn usually brings the first black ice, which calls for special attention. Also, when agricultural vehicles dirty the roads with clay and clods of earth, dangerous situations may occur, especially for motorcyclists. Mud and clumps in combination with moistness can result in slippery street surfaces.
Heavy winds or storms can cause another danger. Drivers should adjust their speed, be careful when passing trucks or busses, and watch for signs on bridges and in forest aisles. Officials also recommend not to park under trees when it’s very windy or stormy. Branches might fall onto cars and damage them badly.