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Q: Falling Trees ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Falling Trees
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ezwriter-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 25 Apr 2004 17:30 PDT
Expires: 25 May 2004 17:30 PDT
Question ID: 336112
How common is it for trees to fall over highways in the U.S. causing
injuries to people? Can you also provide several examples?
Who is responsible for tree maintenance on roads?

Clarification of Question by ezwriter-ga on 25 Apr 2004 17:32 PDT
If you come across any other natural perils on America's roads, I
would be interested in those as well. Thanks!

Clarification of Question by ezwriter-ga on 25 Apr 2004 17:45 PDT
Thanks, Pinkfreud. I am interested in finding a source of quantitative
information about these perils. Also, I would be interested in
identifying URLs with recent examples of road perils like falling
trees, floods and falling rocks.
Subject: Re: Falling Trees
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 26 Apr 2004 01:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi ezwriter,

Thank you for an interesting question.  Trees falling over onto
highways can be caused for a variety of reasons.  Weather such as bad
wind storms, tornadoes, torrential rains, and icestorms.  Trees that
are diseased can fall over onto highways.  Other 'perils' include
flooding (especially flash flooding) volcanic eruptions causing
landslides, mudslides, large animals crossing roads and highways, etc.
Time of day - motor vehicle accidents would increase dramatically
after 4:00 PM because of dim light, glare, fatigue, increased traffic.
Direct sunlight has been known to cause vehicular accidents when the
driver is blinded by the light.

National Weather Service Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena

Illinois, South
Perry County Numerous trees were blown down, including two that
blocked U.S. Highway 51
Thunderstorm Wind (G50) 0 0 11 0001CST

Indiana, Southwest - Gibson County
Several large trees and power lines were blown down in Princeton,
Francisco, and Owensville. State Route 64 was blocked by large trees,
and cars and homes were damaged by falling trees.
Thunderstorm Wind (G52) 0 0 10

Kentucky, Southwest - Carlisle County
Large tree limbs and a tree were blown down. Highway 80 was blocked.
Thunderstorm Wind (G50) 0 0 10 Milburn 1030CST


(Original publication: April 21, 2004)

"The tree that fell across a couple's car on the Saw Mill River
Parkway on Monday, killing the new parents inside, may have looked
perfectly healthy, even though something might have been ailing for
some time.

"When a tree falls over, it's not from something that happened a month
ago," said Jerry Giordano, senior horticultural educator for the
Cornell Cooperative Extension Service in Westchester. "It's from the
cumulative effect of things that happened to the tree over time."

And while a tree may go on for years appearing quite normal, Giordano
said, "what basically keeps the tree alive and upright is right under
the bark. It can look healthy, but structurally it is unsound."

That's why it's helpful to know what to look for, or get somebody who
does, to help prevent accidents.

"There are a lot of clues that a tree will give you when it is about
to fall over," said Todd Forrest, senior curator at the New York
Botanical Garden. "Nothing is fail-safe, but there are structural
factors which the homeowner should look for that indicate the tree is

The state Department of Transportation, which is responsible for
maintaining the Saw Mill and its adjacent property, had not yet
determined yesterday what caused the tree to fall across the parkway
about 6 p.m. Monday, killing Stephen J. Spruck, 27, and his wife,
Suzana Dedivanaj-Spruck, 31.

Their 6-month-old daughter survived and was taken to Westchester
Medical Center in Valhalla.

Colleen McKenna, a DOT spokeswoman, yesterday said the tree was "alive
and budding."

"This was a terrible tragedy and we are investigating to try to
determine the cause," said McKenna, reading a prepared statement.
"What we know so far in last night's incident is that the tree that
fell was an approximately 50-year-old live ash tree. We are continuing
to look into the situation."

McKenna could not confirm yesterday that a state DOT crew was cutting
back brush north of the accident site on Monday, but said she would
probably have an answer today. She said state crews perform
maintenance tasks year-round, and that the assistant resident engineer
for the area had walked the road about a month ago.

"This is not the first we've been out on the Saw Mill," she said. 

The state DOT is responsible for maintaining all state highways and
rights of way in Westchester County, except for interstates 287, 95
and 87; all but I-84 in Putnam; and all except the state Thruway in
Rockland, McKenna said. Those highways are maintained by the state
Thruway Authority.

"The state DOT removes thousands of trees from its right of ways each
year, targeting dead or dying ones," McKenna said in her statement.
"The work begins each spring as soon as the trees bud in order to aid
in the identification of unhealthy trees. In the (seven-county) lower
Hudson Valley area, the department or its contractors remove about
5,500 trees each year in the interest of safety and the environment.
Targeted trees are identified by the public, police agencies and
department maintenance workers who patrol the roads every day."

To avoid problems from falling trees, it is necessary to take proper
care of them, and carefully observe them for signs of stress or decay.

"If you see squirrels running in and out of a tree trunk, that
definitely means some part of the tree is hollow, and it is a
structural defect," Forrest said. "A cavity doesn't indicate that the
tree may fall down tomorrow, but it absolutely indicates that a
trained specialist needs to look at the tree to find out why that
cavity is there and what it means."

Cavities are often caused by incorrect pruning or topping, resulting
in rot where the branch was cut.

"Trees don't replace injured tissues the way animals and humans do,"
Giordano said. "Basically they try to wall off the place where the
wound occurs so it protects the rest of the tree from infection. If
they are not able to wall it off effectively, you will end up with rot
inside the tree and a cavity."

Tree experts, or arborists, can examine homeowners' trees to determine
if bare spots in the canopy indicate an infestation, or dead or
decaying branches that need to be removed. Weather patterns, such as
severe drought followed by new growth, also can stress trees.

"Many old trees, like oaks, start to decline as they get old and don't
grow as vigorously," Forrest said. "You should check to see if the
leaves continue to look healthy and if there is a full leaf canopy, or
if there are areas in the tree where the leaves didn't come out during
the summer. If there are, you need to find out why."

Forrest said homeowners should have their trees examined annually for
signs of stress, insect infestation or decay. "If you take good care
of your trees," he said, "they should last you a long, long time."


Metro News
6-month-old survives freak tree accident but is orphaned 

The Associated Press 
4/20/2004, 6:04 p.m. ET 

"WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) A baby girl was recovering Tuesday from the
injuries she received in a freak accident that killed her mother and
father when a tree fell onto their car as they drove home along a
Westchester parkway on a sunny day.

Police said 6-month-old Kristina Spruck may have survived because she
was strapped into a safety seat in the back seat of the family's
Toyota SUV.

The girl's father, Stephen Spruck, 27, was found dead behind the
wheel, wearing a seat belt, said William Rehm, first deputy
commissioner of the Westchester County police. Her mother, 31-year-old
Suzana Dedivanaj-Spruck, was found in the back, unbelted.

Rehm said emergency workers could not tell if she had been riding in
the back seat or if she had been in the front, went to her baby girl
after the accident and died in the back.

"It's possible she went back there," he said. "That's all we can say
at this point."

The accident occurred at about 6 p.m. Monday on the Saw Mill River
Parkway in Hastings-on-Hudson, about 7 miles north of the New York
City border. The 50-year-old ash tree fell across all four lanes and
smashed onto the back of the Sprucks' southbound car, rolling the SUV
over onto the shoulder, where it came to rest on its roof.

The parents were declared dead at the scene.

Dedivanaj-Spruck, a third- and fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 8 in the
Bronx, had been on maternity leave, said New York City education
department spokesman Paul Rose. She had worked at the school for 11
years and had attended the school as a child.

Olga Gajzal-Verses, the family's next-door neighbor on Cascade Terrace
in Yonkers, said Struck was a Manhattan accountant. Kristina was their
only child, she said, but the mother had told her "they wanted to have
more children."

"They were great people, very nice people," Gajzal-Verses said. "It
could have been anyone. It's such a tragedy."

The girl, who was extricated from the smashed car by county police and
Hastings volunteer firefighters, was in stable condition Tuesday after
being taken by helicopter to the Westchester Medical Center in
Valhalla, said hospital spokesman Dan Loughran.

Sgt. Bruce Bellom said Kristina's safety seat probably saved her life."


"A second car, a northbound Honda Civic, was hit by the tree and its
front end was damaged, but the driver, Tatiana Ferraro, who was alone,
was not seriously injured.

Ferraro, who lives in Yorktown Heights and is principal of Sacred
Heart Grade School in Yonkers, said, "I saw the tree coming and I said
to myself, 'I can't believe this is happening.' I braked, and the car
was badly damaged. But I'm in one piece, and that's close to a

The state Department of Transportation is responsible for pruning and
removing trees along the roadside, and spokeswoman Colleen McKenna
said the department was investigating to determine what caused the ash
tree to fall.

"We target dead and dying trees," she said. "This tree was alive and budding."

What caused the tree to fall was unknown, but it was on the slope of a
hill above the southbound lanes.

A DOT crew cut up the tree, and the highway was closed until about 9:30 p.m.

A similar death occurred on the Saw Mill in Hastings in October 1996,
when a Queens man was killed by a falling tree during a storm."


Tree Falls Onto Parkway, Killing Couple

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) - A large tree fell onto a parkway and
hit a moving car, killing a couple and injuring a baby girl who was a
passenger, police said.

"The tree fell across all four lanes of the Saw Mill River Parkway
north of New York City at about 6 p.m. Monday and smashed onto the
back of a southbound SUV, rolling it over onto the shoulder, where it
came to rest on its roof.

The driver and one passenger, described only as a couple from
Westchester County, were killed, police said. The girl, who is 5 or 6
months old, was strapped into a safety seat in the back and was

She was hospitalized in fair condition Monday night, said police
spokesman Sgt. Bruce Bellom. A call seeking an update Tuesday morning
was not returned. The victims' names were not made public.

Bellom said the safety seat probably saved the girl's life. 

A second, northbound car was hit by the tree and its front end was
heavily damaged but the driver, Tatiana Ferraro, was not seriously

"There was no wind, no rain. It was a perfect day," she said. "I saw
the tree coming and I said to myself, 'I can't believe this is
happening.' I braked and the car was badly damaged. But I'm in one
piece and that's close to a miracle.''

What caused the large, bare-branched tree to fall was unknown, but it
had been rooted on the slope of a hill above the southbound lanes."


Portland, Oregon - 1995/1996

"Portland is a rainy, clean, flower kind of city. My memories is
everything growing all of the time. Its constantly raining, and
everything is always green and growing. So many different kinds of
trees, plants, flowers, everything.

One of my most memorable memories of Portland is the time it rained so
much that large trees began falling over. This is mainly because since
it is always so moist, the roots of trees do not have to grow very
deep. So if it rains too much, then the soil becomes SO MOIST.. that
the lack of depth of the roots will just cause them to fall right
over. At this time when we had a very serious lenght of heavy rains,
this phenemenon began to happen. Trees were falling onto major
highways, into apartments, landslides were happening. It was a mess,
but quite interesting as I'd never heard of anything like that ever
happening in my hometown in Michigan or anywhere else."


Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena

ALZ001>007 09 2200CST-
10 2300CST 0 2 ? ? Ice Storm
Flash Flood
A devastating and paralyzing ice storm struck a seven county area of
northwest Alabama.  The weight of the ice felled numerous trees
blocking roads and making travel impossible.


Missoula Montana

"Environmentalists have appealed every environmental impact statement
written for burned-area recovery efforts after the 2002 fire season,
the undersecretary said. This year, for the first time,
environmentalists also challenged the removal of hazard trees -
burned, dead trees in danger of falling over onto major highways or
into campgrounds or other heavily populated places."

Road Management & Engineering Journal - Copyright  1997 by TranSafety, Inc. 
Legal Problems: The Liabilities of Roadside Maintenance

Fallen Trees 

Bordering the Traveled Way 

"The fall of large trees or limbs on or into the path of vehicles
poses a serious danger to motorists. It is widely recognized by the
courts that highway departments have a duty to inspect trees bordering
traveled ways to identify trees that are in weakened condition and
susceptible to falling. In order for a State or subordinate agency to
be held liable for personal injuries resulting from such accidents, it
is necessary to show that the government had actual or constructive
knowledge of the diseased condition of the tree.

Within the Right-of-Way 

 Some states satisfy their duty of reasonable care by conducting
drive-by inspections by qualified personnel. If a diseased condition
is noted by observers, the State has the duty to take remedial action,
whether the tree stands within the-right of-way or on private land
adjacent to the right-of-way.

In the case of McGinn v. City of Omaha, 217 Neb. 579, 352 N.W.2d 545
(1985), the Supreme Court examined whether or not a drive-by
inspection satisfied the State's requirements of due care. In this
case a tree, located in the right-of-way, fell upon an automobile that
was traveling on a street owned and maintained by the defendant City
of Omaha. Judgment was rendered for the plaintiff at trial, although
the tree fell during a severe storm and there was no previous
knowledge that the tree was badly decayed on the inside. The City

 Upon appeal, the plaintiff could not prove that the City had failed
to inspect the tree or that visible signs of decay were apparent prior
to the tree's fall. In fact, uncontroverted evidence showed that the
City of Omaha had instituted an inspection program to detect and
remove hazardous trees from the city streets. An expert from the
University of Massachusetts testified that few cities had such an
inspection program, and Omaha's was one of the best he had seen. The
Court ruled that for practical purposes an inspector must rely upon
external indications when inspecting a tree for decay. This case
squarely supported the case law set forth in the original paper that
drive-by inspections by trained observers do satisfy the requirements
of due care.

 In several other cases, the variables of each case influenced the
court rulings. In one case in South Carolina, Marsh v. South Carolina
Department of Highways and Public Transportation, 380 S.E.2d. 867
(S.C. 1989), a tree standing in close proximity to the highway had
been leaning toward the highway for four years and was noticeable to
anyone traveling that roadway. The day before a crash where the tree
fell onto a truck, the tree had been leaning at a 60- or 70-degree
angle. Road crews had made no effort to remove the tree--although its
diseased trunk was clearly evident even to a non- expert. The court
determined that the State did not exercise reasonable care and found
for the truck driver.

 Another case in Connecticut, Roman v. City of Stamford, 16 Conn. App.
213, 547 A.2d 97 (1988), applied public versus private duty
distinction when a vehicle was struck by a rotted falling pine tree.
In this case a City charter provision directed the City's park
commission to provide for the care and control of all trees within the
limits of public roads. Both the trial court and the Supreme Court
reached the conclusion that a municipality cannot be held liable for
negligence if a city charter provision directs the city's park
commission to provide for the care and control of all trees within the
limits of public roads. (The public duty-private duty dichotomy
admittedly is a complex matter. For a more detailed discussion of this
subject see "The Public Duty Defense to Tort Liability," appearing in
Selected Studies in Highway Law, Vol.4, at p.1868-N1.)

Outside the Right-of-Way Limits 

 As a general rule, it is the responsibility of the State and its
subordinate agencies to inspect trees located outside the right-of-way
but within falling distance of the roadway. But, as discussed
previously in McGinn, duty lies in removing trees that pose imminent
danger. As the Appellate Court determined, it would be an impossible
task to carefully inspect every tree on property adjacent to the
highway right-of-way. In one Louisiana case, Walker v. Department of
Transportation & Development (DOTD), 460 So.2d 1132 (La.App.1985), a
wrongful death action resulted when a car collided with a 70-year-old
tree that was uprooted during a severe ice storm and fell from outside
the right-of-way to a position across the paved surface of the
roadway. The DOTD could not be charged with constructive knowledge of
a buried root defect, and the appellant could give no evidence to
establish that the DOTD had either actual or constructive notice of
possible root defect in the tree concerned.


Economy of the United States - Department of Transportation

"State governments, meanwhile, are responsible for the construction
and maintenance of most highways. State, county, or city governments
play the leading role in financing and operating public schools. Local
governments are primarily responsible for police and fire protection.
Government spending in each of these areas can also affect local and
regional economies, although federal decisions generally have the
greatest economic impact."


The Department of Public Works in each county would be responsible for
roads and tree trimming.

For example:


"The Road Maintenance unit is responsible for maintenance of all
County roads (607.24 miles) and equipment and material yards including
pavement maintenance and restoration, bridge repair, building
maintenance, cribbing, concrete work, bike lane maintenance, median
landscaping (except in CSA 9E), tree trimming, and certain storm drain


Debris-Flow Hazards in the United States

Dangerous, Fast-Moving Landslides

"Fast-moving flows of mud and rock, called debris flows or mudslides,
are among the most numerous and dangerous types of landslides in the
world. They are particularly dangerous to life and property because of
their high speeds and the sheer destructive force of their flow. These
flows are capable of destroying homes, washing out roads and bridges,
sweeping away vehicles, knocking down trees, and obstructing streams
and roadways with thick deposits of mud and rocks. Debris flows are
typically associated with periods of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt
and tend to worsen the effects of flooding that often accompanies
these events. Finally, in areas burned by forest and brush fires, a
lower threshold of precipitation may initiate debris flows."


"During the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, a debris flow traveled
about 14 miles down the valley of the North Fork Toutle River. It
destroyed nine highway bridges, many miles of highways and roads, and
about 200 homes on the flood plain of the Toutle River (Photo: D.
Crandell, USGS)."


United States Earthquakes, 1946

"Near Campbell River a hillside slid 35 feet and a house was shifted 5
feet. Waves were reported sweeping in from the sea, flooding fields
and highways. Rock slides..."


Floods - Know the Facts

"Flooding is the most common and widespread of all natural disasters.
It can happen anywhere and at anytime, with devastating results to
life and property. Tropical storms, cyclones and tsunamis (giant sea
waves) produce heavy rains and can flood coastal communities. Inland,
floods can occur in valleys, near rivers and streams, and even in
small creaks and dry streambeds. Flooding along rivers can occur
seasonally. Rains that come in winter or spring combine with melting
snow can quickly fill river basins beyond capacity. In urban areas,
land loses its ability to absorb rainfall as fields are converted to
roads. When this happens, streets and roadways become swift-moving
rivers. It's important to know what to do before, during, and after a

An example of a typical Flash Flood Warning - 









LAT...LON 2955 10068 2953 10017 2989 10002 2979 10067

Design Guide Offers New Look at Mitigating Highway Rockfall Hazards

"Each year, rockfalls along highways cost States millions of dollars
in claims and litigation. Even worse, several States have reported
injuries and deaths as a direct result of rocks falling onto roads.
According to Oregon Department of Transportation (DOT) Geotechnical
Designer Don Turner, "In Oregon in the last 20 years, anywhere from 5
to 8 people have been killed and 10 to 20 have been injured [due to
highway rockfall]. Even more common is property damage to vehicles
when a rock hits a windshield or rolls in front of a car that swerves
out of the way and hits a tree. Many of the smaller incidents aren't
even reported."

To address this hazard, highway agencies design "catchment areas,"
which are ditches along the side of the road that channel falling
rocks away from vehicles. To date, catchment areas have been used
inconsistently throughout the United States because not enough
research had been done to provide engineers with the data they need to
make informed design decisions. A new design guide available from the
Oregon DOT is stepping in to fill this gap."



"In addition to catchment charts and guidelines, the Design Guide
offers step-by-step guidance on applying the catchment design
procedure using sample problems and highway project case studies. The
case studies also demonstrate other design considerations such as
constructibility of the catchments and cost/benefit comparisons of
alternate designs.

The Rockfall Catchment Area Design Guide can help transportation
agencies in several ways. Even with an engineering concept as simple
as a ditch, it takes significant effort to determine how wide it
should be to ensure maximum safety from falling rocks. The Guide takes
much of the guesswork out of designing a catchment, thus saving States
and localities time and money. Another advantage of using the Design
Guide is that it can help determine the potential effectiveness of
existing catchments without an agency having to conduct tests on each
one individually. And ultimately, the advice given in the Guide can
help make traveling through areas with rock slopes far safer for

In addition, animal crossing signs such as "Deer Crossing" can be seen
along many United States highways.  Many motorists have been injured
or killed when their vehicle plowed into an animal.

Deer crossings

"Through research, we have learned many patterns about deer/vehicle
accidents. For example, most crashes between deer and vehicles occur
around sunrise or sunset. Spring and fall are the most common times
for these accidents.

Deer-vehicle crashes are often unavoidable. However, a few precautions
may minimize your chances of injury or property damage in a
deer-vehicle crash.

Please keep these ideas in mind: 

Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts save lives and keep passengers
safe in any crash.
Don't swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake
as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don't lose control of
your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer (This also
applies to other animals such as hogs, pheasants and turkeys). You
risk less injury by hitting the animal.
When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. 
If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn. 
Pay attention on roadways posted with deer-crossing-area caution
signs. They are there for good reason. Be extra careful in these
Report any accident to your supervisor immediately. 
No published research supports the effectiveness of deer whistles on
vehicles. Deer can't hear ultrasonic frequencies."


N.C. automobile crashes involving 
deer reached all-time high in 2002

OCTOBER 27, 2003, CHAPEL HILL -- Reportable automobile crashes
involving deer in North Carolina reached an all-time high during 2002,
a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows.

The UNC Highway Safety Research Center analysis of state accident
figures revealed 14,002 crashes in which the fleet animals figured.
Deer were not a known factor in 207,893 other crashes last year.

Although mishaps involving deer usually do not result in injuries to
drivers or passengers and only infrequently cause deaths among drivers
or passengers, estimates are that they result in some $31 million in
property damage across the state.

"The number of deer-related crashes continues to increase every year,"
said Dr. Douglas Robertson, center director. "More than one in 20
reported crashes in the state is now deer-related, and we're still
seeing several counties where one or more out of every three crashes
involves a deer."

From the many anecdotal reports the center has received, the figures
probably are just a fraction of the real number of deer-motor vehicle
crashes, he said. That is because records are generated only when
police officers write narratives about crashes and include the word
'deer.' When less than $1,000 damage and no injuries occur, drivers
usually do not report the accidents


Smart Motorist

Cars + Deer = Trouble - Smart Motorist 

"Each year there are approximately 500,000 deer/auto collisions
resulting in over 100 deaths and thousands of injuries. Each deer/auto
collisions cost the auto insurance industry about $2,000 according to
the Insurance Information Institute. The recent explosion in the deer
population has lead to a dramatic increase in deer/car collisions. In
the 1980's the deer population was approximately 10 million. Today,
there are more than 25 million. Losses due to deer and car encounters
will only increase as the deer population continues to grow and urban
habitats encroach upon rural environments.

The following are defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer: 

Be vigilant in early morning and evening hours, the most active time for deer. 
Use your high-beam headlights, which reflect in the deer's eyes, to
see the deer better.
Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away. 
Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. Do not
swerve. It can confuse the deer as to where to run. It can also cause
you to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
Be alert and drive with caution when you are moving through a deer crossing zone. 
Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes
were not wearing their seat belt.
Look for other deer after one has crossed the road. Deer seldom run alone. 
If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. The
frightened animal, in attempting to move, could hurt you or itself.
The best procedure is to get your car off the road, if possible, and
call the police. When you get home, contact your insurance agent or
company representative and report the incident. Collision with an
animal is normally covered under the comprehensive portion of your
auto insurance policy.


What can you do to avoid hitting an animal? - Collisions with animals,
particularly deer, represent more than four percent of all crashes in
the United States and killed 111 people in 1995 according to data from
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatal Accident
Reporting System (FARS), so the Foundation decided to look into this
issue further. An analysis of state data from Alabama showed that the
most dangerous times of day for deer-related crashes are in the early
evening and early morning -- the most active time for deer. The most
dangerous time of year is during the mating season, in November and
December. While FARS reported 275,000 collisions with animals in 1995,
the Insurance Information Institute, a New York based group that looks
into various insurance-related issues, estimates that there are
500,000 collisions each year with deer alone, each costing the
insurance industry approximately $2,000 per claim. According to the
I.I.I., the deer population has swelled from approximately 10 million
in the 1980s to more than 20 million today.

So, what can you do to avoid hitting an animal yourself? First, pay
attention to animal crossing signs. They're probably there because
other motorists have had crashes in the area. Also, obey the speed
limit and keep a close watch for deer around dusk and at dawn. Don't
over-drive your headlights at night -- i.e., control your speed so
that you will have time to react to something when it appears in your
headlights. If you see a deer in the road, honk your horn -- flashing
your lights might cause the animal to further fixate on your vehicle.
Keep in mind that if you think you are going to hit the animal, it's
often better to brake than to swerve. Swerving can confuse the animal
as to which way to run and possibly result in a worse collision with a
fixed object such as a tree or an oncoming vehicle.

What kind of vehicles are most often involved in animal-related
crashes? According to statistics culled from the University of
Albama's Crash Analysis Reporting Environment (CARE), automobiles are
involved in about 61 percent of the crashes followed by pickup trucks,
which are involved in 26 percent of crashes. Vans are involved in 7
percent, while tractor trailers are involved in only two percent.

Saturday, August 26, 2000

"Temporarily Blinded Driver Hits Woman in Crosswalk"

"Los Angeles - On Friday, August 25, 2000, at approximately 6:15 p.m.,
a fatal traffic collision occurred at the intersection of Melrose and
New Hampshire Avenue. Mr. Francisco Gallegos was driving his green
1994 Mercury Cougar westbound on Melrose Avenue when the sun blinded
his vision. Mr. Gallegos attempted to block the sunlight by lowering
his windshield visor when he observed the silhouetted figure of a
human in front of his car. Mr. Gallegos immediately applied his brakes
in an attempt to stop, but collided with Mrs. Josefina Lopez, a 73
year-old female resident of the area, who was walking in the unmarked
crosswalk at the above intersection.

Mr. Gallegos parked his vehicle and immediately called paramedics.
However, Mrs. Lopez sustained excessive blunt force trauma and was was
pronounced dead at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital upon arrival.
Following the accident, Mr. Gallegos was transported to Central
Traffic Division where he was questioned and released."

Smart Motorist

Sun Glare - Sight Unseen - ABC News 20/20 

Bright Sun, Deadly Collisions - San Francisco Examiner 

"Sun Glare - Many suits have been brought in United States courts as a
result of sun glare obliterating traffic control devices or oncoming
vehicles or pedestrians from view. Multiple terms have been used to
describe this situation, including disability glare, veiling glare,
sun blindness, and sun dazzle. The effect is to 'wash out' the image
on the retina with a bright, overwhelmingly dominant spot or pattern.
Evaluation of sun glare requires factoring in latitude and longitude,
road direction, weather conditions, vehicle size and type, driver
position, time of day, windshield transmission, whether the driver was
wearing sunglasses, and any other parameters that could affect line of
Sun Glare - Sight Unseen - ABC News 20/20

Monday, March 22, 1999
(This is an unedited, uncorrected transcript.)

CHARLES GIBSON Right now, we?re going to put you in the driver?s seat
of a car under some surprisingly hazardous conditions. Surprising,
because these conditions have nothing to do with maneuvering through
rain, sleet or snow. It turns out that on a bright, sunny day or a
clear, starry night, you can still face danger behind the wheel.
Michael Guillen looked into some of the unexpected reasons why. He?s
also found a number of ways you can reduce the danger. They could save
your life or someone else?s.

MICHAEL GUILLEN, ABCNEWS (VO) We all know it?s dangerous driving in
the fog and rain. But even when the weather is picture-perfect, as the
sun rises, moves across the sky and then sets, many drivers are
suddenly discovering that they?re driving blind either because there?s
too little sunshine or too much.

DOREEN CICCONE Oh, it was a beautiful day, crystal clear. I was just
driving normal, thought I could see everything well.

MICHAEL GUILLEN (VO) One day last spring, Doreen Ciccone was driving
down Lancaster Street in Leominster (ph), Massachusetts, when all of a
sudden ...

DOREEN CICCONE I heard a thump. And when I looked in my rear-view
mirror, I saw somebody on the ground.

MICHAEL GUILLEN (VO) Doreen had hit and killed an elderly woman who
was crossing the street. Doreen never saw her coming.

DOREEN CICCONE They say that it was sun glare. I had no vision of
seeing anybody. But yet, somebody was there. I guess I blame myself
every day still for it.

MICHAEL GUILLEN (VO) No one keeps precise numbers, but police say
blinding glare like this is a lot more common and deadly than most
people realize. Officer Michael Thomann (ph) investigated Doreen?s

MICHAEL THOMANN, POLICE OFFICER I?ve seen it at least a half dozen
times in my career on the job where somebody has actually died as a
result of the accident. You can?t even count the number of accidents
as a result of sun glare.

MICHAEL GUILLEN (VO) It?s a familiar story. In California, a bus
driver with sun in his eyes hits and kills a little girl. In New
Jersey, a man blinded by the sun drives smack into an oncoming train.
And in New York, glare is blamed when a truck driver accidentally hits
a woman crossing the street. In fact, some cities are so worried,
they?re putting up new warning signs like this.
     (on camera) Glare is especially bad in the early fall and early
spring like now. That?s when the sun rises almost exactly East and
sets almost exactly West. Now, for all the streets that are laid out
in an East-West pattern, that?s a problem, because that means that
during the morning and afternoon commutes, you?re most likely to be
driving directly into the sun.
     (VO) But the sun doesn?t have to be directly in your eyes to be
dangerous. You can be blinded indirectly any time of the day by
something called veiling glare. You know, those annoying reflections
off the top of your dashboard. They dance across your windshield and
obscure your view. Like a veil, you can see through it, but not very

something that a lot of consumers encounter, but until they?re told
what it is, they don?t realize it.


"But glare is not only a problem when motorists are driving into the
sun, Shine said. He blames a lot of red light running on glare, too.

When the sun is behind motorists, he said, the light often bounces off
the reflectors of the traffic lights ahead, causing them to have the
same brightness - and to look like they are all the same color. Some
motorists run the red light because it looks the same upon approach as
the green light they saw moments before.

Glare is especially acute this time of year and in early spring, which
astronomers call the equinox. Several factors only worsen the problem
for rush-hour commuters in San Francisco.

*Glare is at its worst when the sun is low, toward the horizon. That
typically is the hour or so after sunrise and before sunset, said Bing
Quock, assistant chairman of the Morrison Planetarium at the
California Academy of Sciences. At this time of year, that means glare
is a problem from about 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and from 5 p.m. to 6:30
p.m. - the height of rush-hour traffic.

*The sun rises and sets exactly due east and west in the weeks before
and after the official start of spring on March 20 and autumn on Sept.

*San Francisco, like many cities, is largely laid out in a grid
pattern, with streets running north to south (like Van Ness Avenue),
and east to west (like Geary). Most office and retail jobs are
downtown, which means that morning commuters tend to head east - which
means they have to drive into the sun to get to work. Many residential
neighborhoods are on the west side of town, which means that commuters
heading home are once again driving toward the sun.

*The City's hills can offer some shade. But when drivers crest those
hills, they can be blinded by the sudden burst of sunlight.

"You round the corner, get up that hill, and whang, it hits you," said
Officer Shawn Chase, a spokesman for the CHP's San Francisco office."


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Best regards,
ezwriter-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Nice job! Intelligent use of resources

Subject: Re: Falling Trees
From: pinkfreud-ga on 25 Apr 2004 17:35 PDT
I would think that flooding is probably the #1 natural peril on
America's roads. In some areas, falling rocks are quite bothersome,
also. Roads through the Great Smoky Mountains are often under repair
because of rockslides.
Subject: Re: Falling Trees
From: tlspiegel-ga on 10 May 2004 21:03 PDT
Hi ezwriter,

Thank you so much for the 5 star rating and comments!  :)

Best regards,

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