HORSEHEADS – As the winter season approaches, Curt Rhodes, President of the Chemung County Town Highway Superintendents’ Association, and Andy Avery, Commissioner of Public Works, have issued a winter driving advisory for all Chemung County residents. Planning and preventative maintenance are important year-round, but especially when it comes to winter driving. Residents are asked to be mindful of potentially hazardous road conditions when the forecast calls for winter weather.
“Operating a vehicle is a complex task requiring the driver’s complete attention. Snow and ice conditions create additional layers of difficulty,” said Avery. “Winter weather provides changing and often unexpected, random, or challenging conditions for drivers.”
Your highway superintendents urge residents to:
- Allow yourself plenty of travel time. Winter travel generally takes longer.
- Avoid driving when tired. The proper amount of rest is key before taking on winter weather tasks; rest reduces driving risks.
- Avoid the use of a cell phone or smart device while driving, even in hands-free mode.
- Provide extra distance between vehicles to allow for additional stopping time.
- Note that four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles, while providing increased traction, don’t decrease braking distance.
- Always match your speed to the road and weather conditions. Lower volume roads will have less deicing materials applied than thoroughfares.
- Make certain your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and undamaged.
- Turn off the cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
- Always ensure seat belts are used by all vehicle occupants, not just children and front seat occupants. Take an additional step and ensure your pets are secured while riding in the car.
- As required by State law, fully clean off your vehicle before beginning any trip. Clear vision is a key to good driving. A clean car prevents snow from flying onto adjacent or trailing vehicles. Snow left on your roof can slide onto the windshield when stopping.
- Be aware of snow plows on the road:
- Give them adequate room to operate.
- Stay a sufficient distance behind so the operator can see you.
- Passing a snow plow can be hazardous to you or the plow operator.
- Plow operators need your cooperation and consideration; remember that plow operators have to go home and shovel out driveways also!
- Understand that bridge surfaces are often more slippery than the roadway and drive accordingly. Cold air beneath the bridge causes the surface to freeze faster.
- Follow local parking restrictions to allow efficient clearing of snow from roadways.
- Mailboxes are generally the responsibility of property owners. All mailboxes should be properly installed. State law provides that repairs to mailboxes damaged by plows or flying snow are the responsibility of the property owner, not the municipality.
- Plowing or shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks into or across roadways is not allowed by New York State law. It creates a hazard for motorists and highway and public works employees alike.
- If possible, wait until after the plows go by before shoveling your driveway entrance. Shovel the snow to the “downstream” side of your driveway. This prevents snow from being plowed back into the driveway.
“Most importantly, drive safely and courteously. Our highway and public works’ employees clear snow and ice as efficiently and safely as feasible,” added Rhodes.
In the event of a winter storm, do not drive unless necessary. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must travel:
- Make sure your car is stocked with survival gear; this should include blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, a set of tire chains, battery booster cables or a charged jump starter pack, quick energy foods, and brightly-colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent gasoline freeze-up. If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you when traveling.
- Share your travel plans with friends or family.
For more information on safe winter driving, please visit the United States Department of Transportation’s “Winter Driving Tips” webpage at: https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/vehicle-safety/winter-driving-tips