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Authorities Urging Extra Caution, Defensive Driving

By Staff | Jan 5, 2010

While some people are enjoying the covering of snow that the area has been gifted with by Mother Nature, area law enforcement personnel are seeing more and more accidents occurring due to an often overlooked fact – with large snowfalls come large piles of snow, and that means reduced fields of vision for motorists.

“With all the snow, we’ve seen quite a tremendous increase in the number of accidents in recent days where people leave a stop sign and their vision is obscured by the snow banks and piles of snow,” noted Emmetsburg Police Chief Eric Hanson. “People stop and the stop signs, figure all is clear and pull out, only to realize there is a vehicle coming they couldn’t see and then we have a collision.”

While collisions in the wintertime go hand-in-hand with slippery roads, there are ways that motorists can reduce those risks, but it requires some planning and extra care when traveling.

“One suggestion is that if its possible, motorists might want to explore alternate routes that offer better visibility,” Hanson suggested. “For a person in an average car, most of the snow banks in town are at eye level, and that makes it very tough to maintain a clear field of vision. People in pickups and SUV’s have a little better visibility, but that’s not always the case, either.”

While many of the community’s intersections have been pushed back where possible, there are some intersections where snow creates a field of vision problem for drivers. When a driver is at such an intersection, Hanson suggests extra caution when pulling away from such an intersection.

“Don’t just stop and pull away. Creep out slowly until you can see clearly,” Hanson said. “Always look both ways as you’re leaving a stop sign, and remember you may not be able to accelerate as quickly as you normally would, due to slick conditions.”

Hanson noted that while street and road crews are doing their best to clear streets and roadways and apply sand, the current cold snap doesn’t help matters, as no melting occurs to aid in clearing roads of their glaze.

Hanson noted that the city public works department is working especially hard on the King Street corridor, as school resumes on Wednesday. “With the number of high schoolers who drive to school, traffic in that area will also increase greatly, so people may also want to take that fact into consideration when they think about alternate routes.”

“We know the streets are very slick and glazed over, and with that in mind, drivers also need to remember to operate their vehicles at a safe and prudent speed,” Hanson added. “They need to approach stop signs and slower speeds, and above all, always look both ways when pulling away from stop signs. If everyone would just take a little extra care and time and be a little more defensive in their driving, we can hopefully avoid some of these mishaps.”