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December 27, 2012 - 12:47pm

Highway superintendent reminds residents about snow plow and winter driving issues

posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

Letter to the Editor:

Now that winter is fully upon us, it is important to be reminded of a few things in regards to snow removal and winter driving:


  1. During and after snow events, highway agencies, in the course of plowing, receive phone calls regarding damage to mailboxes, either from snow plows directly or from the force of snow being thrown by plows.  If such damage is indeed caused by snow removal, it is not done intentionally.  It is, however, an unfortunate consequence of snow removal.  As far as the particular agencies replacing damaged mailboxes, it must be pointed out that there is no statutory or legal authority requiring them to do so.  In fact, under Section 319 of the New York State Highway Law, mailboxes are considered highway obstructions and are only “allowed” in the right-of-way as a convenience to the owner as it is understood they are required for mail delivery.  Additionally, an opinion issued by the Attorney General on February 28, 1966 stated, “When the necessity of keeping the highway open conflicts with an individual’s reception of the mail, the later must stand aside.”  Highway crews do their best to avoid mailboxes, but often times visibility, oncoming traffic and heavy snow work against them.  The best method to protect your mailbox during the winter months is to ensure it is properly attached to the post and to keep the mailbox assembly simple to limit impact surface area for plowed snow.

  2. Over the last few years, the practice of plowing or depositing snow from private driveways or private property onto the highway has increased significantly, especially after roadways are cleared and snow has been pushed back behind the shoulders by highway agencies.  This is a dangerous practice and it is strictly prohibited under Section 1219 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and Section 214 of the New York State Highway Law.  Depositing snow or ice onto the roadway or shoulder may result in a serious accident and the person or persons responsible may be liable to a fine of $1000.00 per day, per occurrence for each day the occurrence remains uncorrected.  Police agencies and highway agencies will issue written warnings prior to issuing tickets.

  3. “Slick Roads Cause Accident” is often a frequent newspaper headline during in the winter months.  The truth is that slick roads may contribute to an accident but they are not the sole cause of accidents.  Accidents are generally caused by drivers who fail to drive appropriately for winter conditions.  Sections 1180(a) and 1180(e) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law state that “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”  Accepted safe winter driving practices include, but are not limited to, slower driving, increased braking distance and increased vehicle separation.  Following these guidelines will significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident on slick roads.

  4. Highway agencies spend a considerable amount of tax money to ensure the roads are cleared in an efficient manner after snow and ice events.  Snow removal efforts do not guarantee bare or dry roads.  The cost to provide these conditions would far outstrip what most tax payers would be willing to pay.  Even when bare roads can be obtained, weather conditions such as wind and rapidly dropping temperatures can alter highway conditions dramatically from area to the next.  The best course of action for anyone traveling during the winter months is to adjust your driving to meet the conditions present.

Please drive safe, be patient and have a Happy New Year!

Timothy J. Hens, PE
Genesee County Superintendent of Highways

jason reese
jason reese's picture
Last seen: 6 days 12 hours ago
Joined: Dec 12 2008 - 11:39am

Here's something else you can add. The city of Batavia and Town of Batavia, ny are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks in their community. Walking in the street is unfair and very unsafe for citizens. If someone gets hit because the sidewalks are not properly maintained the city or town are responsible.They believe us citizens, should do their jobs, when were not. I seen a city truck and one of the snow removal machines head down union street, without touching west main or any sidewalk. I live on w.main and kingsbury, we did our job correctly and legally, now maybe the town and city should do their part.

Beth Kinsley
Beth Kinsley's picture
Last seen: 3 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 22 2008 - 9:43pm

Actually the City Code states it is the homeowner's responsibility to clear the sidewalk in front of the home.

John Roach
John Roach's picture
Last seen: 2 days 15 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Jason, where did you get your 'fact'. Property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks clear.

bud prevost
bud prevost's picture
Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: Jan 11 2009 - 9:12pm

Beth, you clearly are a racist for saying that.

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