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Safety on the Roads, by Dave Werner

Highway departments are not liable for mailbox damage

As winter approaches, and if you are among the many residents in Franklin County with a rural mailbox along the side of the road, pay attention to the rest of this article, as fixing your box in the middle of the winter is not much fun. If a property owner places his or her mailbox in the ...

Winter driving — are you ready?

Like it or not, winter driving is about to hit us, and so is the usual increase in crashes as we all but refuse to drive more slowly and carefully, or leave in time to get there without driving faster than we should. And every year we read or hear about safe driving tips in the media, and yet ...

Traffic laws to ponder

“You are sentenced to $150 fine and 15 days in jail!” “For what? I had the walk signal when I crossed Main Street.” “For not walking upon the right half of the crosswalk!” This could happen. Section 1155 of Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that pedestrians move, whenever ...

Following too closely is a dangerous practice

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety previously reported that 40% of all automobile crashes involve tailgating — or, more formally, following too closely. What driver hasn’t been annoyed by the driver behind riding right on his/her tail? Answer: no one! But the flip side is how ...

Paint is cheap, or is it?

A column last month discussed how centerline and edge line markings on our highways make driving easier and safer. That article explained the requirements that mandated pavement markings, where they were optional and where they were not recommended without a compelling engineering reason for ...

Pedestrian safety is no accident

Pedestrian safety is a two-way street: Drivers must be aware of pedestrians and what they might do, and pedestrians must be aware of drivers and what they might do. If both driver and pedestrian are aware of the other and obey the basics of vehicle and traffic law, vehicle-pedestrians crashes ...

School speed limits return after prolonged absence

As I write this article, it looks like students will be physically returning to our schools sometime during September, with some schools beginning as early as the 8th while others not until the 21st. (Editor’s note: Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid public schools begin classes on ...

Autonomous vehicles need to avoid human-like errors

Driver mistakes play a role in virtually all crashes. That’s why automation has been held up as a potential game changer for safety. But autonomous vehicles might prevent only around a third of all crashes if automated systems drive too much like people, according to a new study from the ...

Pavement markings make driving easier and safer

When spring comes, we can’t wait until NYS DOT re-paints the lines in the road. It makes driving so much easier. Pavement markings are used to guide and regulate traffic. They can improve the safety of a highway and inform the driver without diverting attention away from the ...

Signaling lane changes are mandatory

Every day as I drive in the Village of Malone, where there are several miles of four-lane streets and roads, I cannot drive more than a couple of blocks without watching at least one driver change lanes without using his/her turn signal. And, the number of drivers that fail to use their turn ...

Human error responsible for traffic ‘crashes’

For those of you that are regular readers of these weekly articles on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety, you know that my position, like many others in traffic safety, is not to use the word “accident” when referring to traffic crashes. Indeed, they are crashes or collisions, not ...

Driver death rates remain higher among small cars

To no one’s surprise, despite manufacturers’ efforts to make them safer, the smallest late-model cars remain the most dangerous, according to the most recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study of driver death rates. The IIHS is the agency that crash-tests new cars and ...

Right turn on red history explained

There was an interesting question regarding right turn on red from a previous article that gave readers a chance to ask questions about vehicle and traffic law and traffic in general. The specific question posed by the reader was answered in another previous article, but it might be of ...

Reader questions how E-ZPass works

In the June 1 “Did You Know” article, I offered readers a chance to send me questions they wanted answers to. Last week’s article dealt with several of the questions. Today, I will address another inquiry that I received about E-ZPass and how it works. I have been a user of E-ZPass on ...

Readers’ questions from previous column

In the June 1 column, I offered readers a chance to send me questions they wanted answers to. And I got them. They weren’t all about Vehicle and Traffic Law, but included questions on several subjects that they were interested in. Although I replied to most of them directly, here are a few of ...

IIHS recommends having safeguards for automated driving systems

Most new cars today have some partially automated systems that assist the driver in a variety of ways, but these systems still need the driver to be involved at all times. “Unfortunately, the more sophisticated and reliable automation becomes, the more difficult it is for drivers to stay ...

Slow-moving vehicles present dangerous situations on road

Traffic experts know that it isn’t just speed that causes crashes but rather the difference in speed between two vehicles. In Franklin County, two contributors to speed differential are agriculture operations (farms) and Amish families. Both operate slow moving vehicles on our local highways ...

‘E-bikes’ allowed under vehicle and traffic law

Bicycles with electric assist (“e-bikes”) are now allowed in New York under Vehicle and Traffic Law, effective April 3, 2020. A new VTL section 102-c has been added to define e-bikes as a bicycle which is no more than 36 inches wide and has an electric motor of less than 750 watts and is ...

UTVs cannot be legally operated on public roads

I recently had an email from a farm family that asked for clarification on whether Utility Task Vehicles, also known as Cargo All-Terrain Vehicles, could be operated on a town road if used exclusively for farm purposes. The last time I addressed the issue of UTVs was in November 2016, so it’s ...

Think police aren’t issuing tickets due to COVID-19? Think again

I have heard rumors that most enforcement agencies, including NYS Police, weren’t stopping speeders and other violators due to COVID-19 and also because some local courts were not handling disposition of vehicle and traffic (VTL) tickets. I have even heard speak of drivers speeding more than ...