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Fall’s debut brings new hazards

The first day of fall arrives this week, and with it comes an increased amount of road hazards.

Monday, September 20, 1999

The first day of fall arrives this week, and with it comes an increased amount of road hazards. Deer already are venturing out of the woods and crossing highways, said Lt. Jim Coleman of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

"Deer start to change their breeding and eating habits this time of year," Coleman said. "The change in the food source and the fall mating habits cause their travel to include crossing highways many times."

Drivers should be especially cautious this time of year to avoid serious accidents, he added.

"Slow down right away if you see one," Coleman said. "And just because you see one cross the road, it doesn’t mean the road is clear. Generally there is more than one deer. Look for those little yellow eyes at night. When you see them, assume it’s a deer, because it probably is."

Deer are not the only things that pose a threat to motorists in the fall. Drivers also should be aware that the leaves on trees are about to hit the ground, Coleman said.

"Leaves can be slippery when they are dry or wet," he said.

Coleman recommends that drivers who come upon a roadway covered with leaves take it slow.

"You shouldn’t go any faster than the speed at which you can control your vehicle, and allow for a proper stopping distance ahead of you," Coleman said. "Oftentimes when we handle crashes, our troopers may cite a person for excessive speed for conditions, and that means exactly what it says. Just because the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, that doesn’t mean you can always travel safely at that speed."

State troopers will continue monitoring the roadways, and they will be on the lookout for drivers who might be stranded after an accident, Coleman said.

"Our troopers try to cover as many roads as possible every day during their tours of duty," he said. "They especially travel on heavily traveled roads where people could be stranded."

Not everyone is focusing their energy on preventing autumn road hazards, however.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials have already started preparing for winter.

The salt sheds in Lawrence County are full, and the department is prepared for when the first snow hits, said Holly Snedecor-Gray, ODOT District 9 public information officer.

"We will have our winter equipment inspection the first week of November," Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said. "We get the salt in the summer, because there is more available. There’s less demand in the summer. If everyone waited until fall or winter, it would be more difficult to get it."

ODOT crews will use the salt anytime there is snow or ice on the roadways to ensure the safety of the traveling public, Mrs. Snedecor-Gray said.

"The only time we would not use salt on snowy or icy roadways would be if the snow is coming down too fast, and the salt would be useless because the plows would plow it right back off."