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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

“Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today,” said Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, “Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves; they are a danger to everyone else on the road.” The national distracted driving awareness effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.

According to the Sheriff, “When we have crashes involving a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) distracted driving is one of the main causes of motorist colliding into the rear of farm equipment and horse and buggies, as well as  bicycles. Speed not reasonable and prudent and following too closely are other contributing factors when motorist are not exercising due care especially on rural roadways.”

With spring season approaching we will see more farm equipment on the rural highways as slow moving vehicles under 25 mph will be travelling to fields via public roadways. “We believe that installing a small amber strobe oscillating light on the top rear of a buggy for daytime operation will aid in a motorist alert and awareness, and augment the orange triangle sign on the rear as getting the attention of an approaching motorist is important,” said the Sheriff. “Similar to the strobe light on top of school buses when children are on board.” 85% of rear end crashes with an SMV are in the daytime. 

One of the distracted driving major issues is the use of a cell or smart phone while driving that is illegal in New York State. “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) campaign to stop distracted driving.  Distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but to everyone else on the road. According to NHTSA “Too many people think that it’s okay to text or talk on the phone while driving, but tragedy after tragedy shows that these actions can have deadly consequences.”   

“While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive. Many of our rear end crashes of slow moving vehicles are due to distraction in some form,” said Sheriff Spike.