Beware of special visibility problems in winter, St. Lawrence County traffic officials warn
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 6:06 am

There are some special challenges to being safe on St. Lawrence County roads, warn county traffic officials.

During winter, slippery roads aren’t the only factor that affects our safety, but also things like reduced visibility due to dark and, at times, snow glare, according to the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program.

From October through April, visibility is less than optimal throughout most of the day. Increased hours of darkness, cloud cover and blowing snow all impede our ability to see what is on or near the roadway. Even as the days grow longer, sun glare may block our vision during our regular commute. Older drivers in particular may have problems adjusting to glare.

The St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program is reminding all road users to “see and be seen” during the winter months. They are issuing the following safety tips to help all of us to arrive safely at our destinations.

People should check the weather before heading out. 511NY has a web site and phone apps that provide real-time information on road conditions and travel advisories.

Motorists should:

• Clear off the entire windshield, not just a peephole.

• Buckle up and adjust vehicle controls before starting out.

• Use headlights. If your vehicle doesn’t have daytime running lights, consider using headlights to help your vehicle be seen by others.

• Constantly scan along the road for buggies, pedestrians and cyclists.

• Refrain from using cruise control when roads are slippery.

Pedestrians should:

• Use the sidewalk if possible. If sidewalks are blocked, pedestrians should walk on the road facing traffic, single file, as far to the left as possible.

• People should wear bright, reflective clothing, and from dusk to dawn they should consider carrying a flashlight to help drivers to see them.

• Take extra care when looking left, right, and left before crossing the street. Hoods and hats may interfere with peripheral vision.

• Cross at crosswalks where drivers expect pedestrians. Crossing mid-block may cause situations where drivers have to panic-break to avoid them. Drivers and cyclists are required to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, but pedestrians should make eye contact with the driver to make sure the motorist is stopping.

Bicyclists must:

• Follow the same rules of the road that apply to motor vehicles. This includes riding on the right side of the road and obeying all traffic signs and signals.

• Be equipped with the lights that are required by New York State law. Bicycles driven between a half-hour after sunset and a half-hour before sunrise must use a white headlight that is visible for at least 500 feet, as well as a taillight that is visible for at least 300 feet.

• Slow down to allow for longer stopping distances.

• Whether we are walking, riding or driving, it is everyone’s responsibility to exercise due care when sharing the road.

For more on safe driving, please contact Mary Davison at the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program by calling 379-2306 or via e-mail at Mdavison@stlawco.org.