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Road safety a concern as winter weather sets in

By | December 05, 2012 | News (2)

As the weather changes for Fresno State students, so are the driving conditions on the road.

Whether it is a short five-minute drive to campus or a hourly commute from a neighboring city, Fresno State students are preparing to drive in bad weather.

One of the most common dangerous conditions for students during these winter months is the thick Tule fog which is caused by rapid decreasing temperatures and heavy rainfall.  These particular circumstances create the blanket of fog Central Valley residents have to deal with every winter.

If forced to drive in bad weather conditions, like rain and fog, students should remember to pay close attention to the roads and always keep in mind some of California’s “Basic Speed Laws.”  According to the California Driver Handbook, the law states that a driver may never drive faster than is safe for those current conditions.

Sgt. Richard Tucker of the Fresno Police Department Traffic Bureau urges drivers to drive slow during heavy rain and allow themselves more time to get to their destinations.

“You need to drive at a speed that is safe for the conditions, and that’s not always the posted speed limit. You need to leave more room for reaction time,” Tucker said.

Tucker stressed the importance of staying alert during the first few rains, as they seem to bring around an increased volume of accidents.

“Usually it’s the first couple rains we’ll hear a severe increase in collisions,” Tucker said. “People are slipping and sliding, following too closely, driving too fast and again, driving at a speed too fast for conditions.”

Justin West, a junior at Fresno State, commutes from Exeter to Fresno four days a week and understands the importance of being more attentive and cautious in winter weather conditions.

“The weather affects my commute dramatically since Highway 99 is under construction, it is already more dangerous than usual. But now that you add in fog or rain, it goes up tenfold,” West said. “I always drive slow in bad weather and automatically switch to a defensive driver because even though the weather is bad, most people are still in a hurry to get to where they are going.”

Since speed and reaction time contribute to accidents, students are encouraged to leave earlier than normal.  This, along with being a defensive driver, can help students slow down, which allows more time to respond in the case of an accident.

“I usually leave a good 30 minutes earlier if I know the road conditions are going to be bad,” West said. “Luckily I have not been in a wreck yet but have seen two on the way up to State in the last week or so,”

It is recommended that students change any headlights or tail lights that need to be replaced.  Drivers should periodically check to make sure that their car’s tire pressure is normal, defroster works and that the windshield wipers work properly.

Students are encouraged to stay up to date on the weather and for more information students can tune into their local broadcast, Internet and radio news weather reports for up-to-date conditions.

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