Trooper Tips: Spring Hazards to Look out For

Sergeant Patrick Rice, Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs

by Sergeant Patrick Rice | Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs

As our beautiful state emerges from winter and makes the 30-minute transition into spring, there are a few important things to remember that Coloradoans sometimes forget from year to year. Here is your happy reminder.

We tend to hunker down in the winter and get excited for the warm weather and opportunities to move back outside. The roads are clear, and because we have been so focused on safe winter driving we sometimes forget to maintain our focus as the trees bloom and the birds begin to chirp. While it may be true that the hazardous conditions have melted from the asphalt, our attention to the road remains paramount, and we need to remember that many vanishing hazards have been replaced with new ones.

Snow and ice have turned into runoff and runoff creates visibility issues by splashing our windshields and creating glare off the road’s surface. Ensuring you have sunglasses and a full reservoir of windshield wiper fluid is highly advised. For those teen drivers who have a little less on the job experience, be intentional about when you squirt that windshield. Pay attention to the curves and clean that windshield before you are head-on with the sun, or wait that extra couple of seconds to be in the shade before going for the clean windshield.

Sliding cars perpendicular on the roadway in blizzard-like conditions have been replaced by Bambis and Thumpers and all their little forest friends. Be on the lookout for our furry neighbors, but should you have an unfortunate encounter, hold your lane. If you can safely maneuver to the next lane and you are certain of your surroundings, then save a deer’s life and make that move, but resist the temptation to jerk the wheel. Whether your motivation is saving your vehicle or saving the animal, the result of an unplanned and violent adjustment in direction can be far more devastating than striking the animal and calling your friendly state trooper to clean up the mess. We prefer seeing you safe with some vehicle damage to seeing you upside down in the median to avoid a deer.

While both of these new spring hazards are certainly dangerous, wheat makes them even more dangerous, which is the complementing factor of hazard number three. Let’s face it: we love the springtime, and it’s easy to daydream and get carried away admiring the beauty Colorado brings this time of year. In the foothills, our eyes are searching for those pretty patches of snow hiding under the blooming flowers and trees. In the mountains, we’re investigating the hillsides for waterfalls rushing with what used to be snow.  Eagles are soaring above, bicyclists and joggers are on the paths, and sports teams are taking them to the fields.  There is a lot to see.  Don’t let it all distract you from the most important things to see right now, which are those opportunities to clean that windshield, those furry friends trying to cross the road, and other motorists who didn’t read this article and heed its advice.

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