MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan says officials are well prepared should we get walloped with lake effect snow.
Horrigan said the county increased its salt budget earlier this year to meet the demands of Western New York’s grueling winter stretch.
“The last part of last winter, got a little more (snow) than we expected,” said Horrigan.”Going into this year we’re a little behind but I think it’s safe to say we’ll be all right.”
Horrigan says he hopes residents use caution if they have to travel over the next few days.
“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.”
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace is also chiming in on the topic of road safety.
“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 a rash of traffic accidents.”
Officials remind you 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, reflective vest, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, cell phone charger or battery pack, 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:
- Making sure it has ample antifreeze and plenty of windshield washer fluid,
- Checking windshield wiper blades, headlights, flashing hazard lights, heater and defroster to make sure they are working properly,
- Testing the battery to avoid being stranded in the cold with a car that won’t start, and
- Making sure tires have adequate tread.
The Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Division of Transportation reports they will be out plowing and salting county-owned roads.
“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, Department of Public Facilities Director. “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.