Sheriff Urges Driver Safety with Season Change

Madison County Sheriff’s Office

Submitted by John Ball

(Madison County, NY – Sept. 2012) Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley is urging motorists to be aware that with the change of seasons, challenges in your daily driving will increase:

Stay Alert

The arrival of the fall season brings colorful foliage, and crisp clear days and nights. But remember, fall driving can also be very unpredictable due to weather changes and also brings an end to Daylight Saving Time. Sunday, Nov. 4, is the day that the clocks are turned back one hour.

This one-hour change can have several effects:

* Turning the clock back affects your body’s internal clock.

* You are likely to be fatigued until your body has adjusted to the time change.

* You may be commuting in the dark more frequently, which you haven’t done in six months.

* Incidences of drowsy driving crashes are much higher during the first weeks following the time changes.

* Remember, animals don’t live by clocks: you may now be on the roads when they are more active.

School is in Session

School buses and students are back on the roads. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. NEVER pass a stopped school bus ANYWHERE with its red lights flashing. Always be on the lookout for students walking along roadways, on sidewalks or in the cross walks.

Watch Out for Leaves

Leaves are falling early this year. Once leaves become wet, they can present slippery and dangerous driving conditions, much like icy roads. Be sure to watch for patches of leaves on the road. Dry leaves can also present problems for you and your vehicle. Avoid parking your vehicle near leaf piles, as the heat from your catalytic converter could start a fire.

Avoid Sun Glare

With the end of Daylight Saving Time comes reduced visibility. Even on familiar roads, it is important that you use additional caution and adjust your driving habits to the different morning or late afternoon glare from the sun. It can cause reflections off vehicle windows and hoods, and can decrease your visibility considerably.

Check your Tire Pressure

With frequent weather and temperature changes, vehicle tires expand and contract more, causing them to lose air pressure. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.

Deer Season

The risk of deer/vehicle collisions is greatest during autumn and early winter. Two-thirds of these crashes occur in October, November and December when deer movements peak due to the onset of the breeding season. In Madison County, vehicle-deer crashes account for more than 37 percent of all crashes investigated by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the state Police. We have already seen a significant spike in car vs. deer accidents with the cooler nights.

Slow down when approaching deer standing near roadsides. Deer may “bolt” or change direction at the last minute. If you see a deer cross the road, slow down and use extreme caution. Deer often travel in groups – if you see one, expect more.

Use caution when driving at dawn and dusk, as deer are most active and visibility is decreased. This means deer are most active during peak commuter traveling times. Use caution and be alert when passing through areas marked with deer crossing signs. These signs are placed in areas that have shown a high incidence of deer/vehicle collisions in the past.

If a collision with a deer is unavoidable – hold on to the steering wheel – do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer. Bring the vehicle to a complete stop. You should try to drive your vehicle as far to the right as possible, activate the four-way hazard flashers and stay in the vehicle, waiting for help to arrive.

Do not attempt to approach or touch the deer. The most serious vehicle/deer crashes occur when a driver swerves at highway speeds to avoid striking a deer and strikes another vehicle, a tree or careens off the roadway and overturns.

Slow-Moving Vehicles

Our farmers will be busy this time of year, harvesting crops and preparing fields for next spring. Please be aware that you may encounter slow-moving vehicles (such as tractors or other farm equipment and animal-powered vehicles (horses and buggies) more frequently. Share the road! When you encounter a slow-moving vehicle, slow down immediately when you see it, increase following distance, be alert and watch for turns into fields, drive courteously – pass with care ONLY when it is safe to do so.

Remember that operators of slow-moving vehicles may have poor visibility due to loads and equipment in tow.

Finally, Riley reminds drivers to ensure your vehicle is functioning properly, all lights are in working order, tires are inflated to proper pressure, windshield washer fluid is checked regularly and that driving speeds will need to be lowered in adverse conditions.

John Ball is undersheriff of Madison County.

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