MAYVILLE, N.Y.:--With Chautauqua County expected to receive its first snowfall this weekend, Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan and Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace remind drivers to please use caution this winter.
“Every year it seems like someone in a hurry is caught in a tragic accident,” said Horrigan. “I urge all drivers to please use caution during winter conditions and to leave early to provide extra time to get to their final destination.”
“A large percentage of winter driving accidents are related to vehicles traveling at speeds not reasonable for road conditions,” said Gerace. “We must give ourselves more time to reach our destination and slow down to avoid accidents. Our first accumulation of snow always results in rash traffic accidents.”
Drivers are reminded to:
• Clean off all snow and ice from their vehicles by making sure snow and frost is removed from the windshield, windows and side mirrors; compacted snow is removed from the wheel wells; and snow is removed from the headlights and taillights so other drivers can see you.
• Reduce their speeds when roads are slick or visibility is reduced;
• Turn on their headlights when visibility is low so other drivers can see you;
• Postpone or cancel non-essential trips if travel conditions are hazardous;
• Update the emergency kit in their vehicles so it includes a shovel, snowbrush, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, snack food, matches, first aid kit with pocket knife, necessary medications, blankets, tow chain or rope, road salt and sand, booster cables, emergency flares, florescent distress flag, and extra hats, socks and mittens;
• Keep parked vehicles off the roadways and shoulders of the road.
• Remember to bring a cell phone when travelling so it can be used in case of an emergency;
• Call the Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement agencies to notify them if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road;
• Keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing; and
• Make sure their vehicles are properly equipped and ready for winter by:
o Making sure it has ample antifreeze and plenty of windshield washer fluid,
o Checking windshield wiper blades, headlights, flashing hazard lights, heater and defroster to make sure they are working properly,
o Testing the battery to avoid being stranded in the cold with a car that won’t start, and
o Making sure tires have adequate tread.
The Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Division of Transportation will also be starting its snow shift schedule this weekend.
“While county plow operators are attempting to make our roadways safe, I encourage drivers to please not add to the hazards of wintertime driving,” said George Spanos, Director of the Department of Public Facilities. “Drivers should always use extra caution near snowplows by reducing their speed and keeping a safe distance.”
Drivers are required to stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow. If drivers must pass a snowplow, they should use caution as snowplows can create a cloud of snow that can obscure vision and the road conditions in front of the plow will likely be worse.
The Department of Public Facilities also encourages residents to clear snow from around their mailboxes and inspect and, if necessary, replace their mailbox posts to ensure they can withstand winter conditions. Mailboxes physically hit and damaged by snowplows will be repaired, but mailboxes that break from the force of the snow coming off the plow will not be fixed.
In addition, when clearing your driveway, it is unlawful to push or brush snow into the roadway. This creates a dangerous situation for motorists.
“By giving our area plow drivers room to clear the roads, being respectful and patient when we are travelling behind a plow, and using caution during adverse travel conditions, we can all help create a safe winter driving season,” said Gerace.