The Dangers of Driving on Wet Leaves

Autumn in New York and New Jersey is exquisite. The changing leaves provide a brilliant backdrop full of reds, oranges, and yellows of all hues, attracting visitors worldwide. The warm and rainy days and the beautiful fall foliage make it a popular time for residents to head upstate on vacation. After all, who wouldn’t want to escape the big city’s hustle and bustle by driving through the countryside? 

Unfortunately, this autumn beauty has a price. When the leaves fall, they cover New York and New Jersey roads. When wet, these leaves become highly slick and dangerous to all drivers.

Did you know that driving on wet leaves is just as dangerous as driving on ice?

If you didn’t know this, you’re not alone. Few New York drivers realize the risks of driving on wet leaves. As a result, they may go too fast for the conditions or fail to slow down adequately on turns. Driving too fast on wet leaves can result in catastrophic and fatal car accidents.

Just How Dangerous Are Wet Leaves for Drivers?

The Weather Channel released a video to prove the dangers of driving on wet leaves. According to the video, when driving 45 miles per hour, it takes the average driver 80 feet to stop a car in dry conditions. 

The results were eye-opening when this same car attempted to stop on wet leaves: The driver needed 200 feet or more to come to a complete stop.

Why? Leaves have a waxy coating that repels water. This coating creates an icy and slippery surface on the leaves when wet, making traction much worse. 

Unfortunately, even if it is not raining, leaves on the road can stay wet for hours. Seemingly dry leaves can trap water underneath them, contributing to a slick surface.

All drivers should drive cautiously on wet leaves in New York. Slow down when driving around leaves, give yourself plenty of time to brake, and keep both hands on the steering wheel. 

Can Driving in Leaves Create Other Dangers?

Both wet and dry leaves can create other dangers on the road, including:

  • Both Wet and Dry Leaves Cover Up Road Markings. Both wet and dry leaves can cover the roads, especially rural roads. When leaves cover the painted road markings, knowing which lane you’re in can present challenges. As a result, drivers can accidentally cross into oncoming traffic or veer into another lane. 


  • Leaves Can Cover Potholes or Hazards on Road. When leaves cover a road, they can cover up hazards. Leaves can obscure potholes, bumps, fallen sticks, and even sharp debris. Drivers who fail to notice road hazards can get into severe accidents and injure others. Road hazards can also cause significant property damage and lead to blown tires and damaged suspension systems. 


  • Wet Leaves Can Stick on Windshields. Wet leaves can stick on windshields and wiper blades, further obscuring a driver’s view. When wet, sticky leaves cover the back windshield of a car, a driver may not see motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other vehicles. Having a partially blocked windshield can lead to horrific and fatal accidents. 


  • Leaf Piles Can Hide Children. Drivers should never drive through piles of leaves, especially in neighborhoods. Children love to play and hide in leaf piles. This can create a dangerous situation because burrowing down into leaves places children out of sight. As such, drivers should never drive through a leaf pile and always use extra caution around leaves where children might play. 


  • Leaves Can Create Fire Hazards. A pile of dry leaves is flammable. Drivers who park over a pile of leaves may create a fire hazard from the exhaust system or catalytic converter.

Driving Safely in Wet Leaves

Follow these important safety tips if you head out to enjoy beautiful New York this fall.

  • Slow down when driving near wet leaves
  • Remove all wet leaves from your windshields (both back and front) and side mirrors and windows before you drive.
  • Use extra caution on turns and when approaching other vehicles. Remember, they might lose traction on wet leaves, so give them plenty of space.
  • Never park or drive through a leaf pile.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times to maintain control. 
  • Do not slam on the brakes if possible. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to stop. If your car doesn’t have antilock brakes, remember to pump your brakes if you start to skid.

What Can a New York Car Accident Attorney Do for You?

If you get into an accident while driving on wet leaves, you might wonder what a New York car accident attorney can do for you. After all, you can’t file a claim or lawsuit against leaves! Fortunately, there are many things a New York car accident lawyer can do to help you after a crash.

If you did not cause the car accident, you will need a lawyer on your side who can fight for your right to total compensation. Perhaps the other driver did not maintain control of their vehicle when driving on wet leaves. Maybe they drove too fast for the road condition and caused your accident.

New York is a no-fault state. If a car accident injures you, you must first file a claim with your personal injury protection coverage to get compensation for medical bills and other losses. However, if you sustained severe injuries or extraordinary damages, New York law allows you to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. 

Your New York car accident attorney can meet with you in a FREE initial consultation and help you explore all your legal options. Contact our personal injury lawyers today to discuss the next steps and how we can get you the compensation you deserve.