Dawn Rye | Writer
Gravel roads are a fact of life for many rural Turner County drivers that present particular road challenges all year round. Driving on loose gravel is more complex than driving on pavement because vehicle tires do not have the traction for stable control.
Driving on gravel is unpredictable and can be challenging. It can sometimes be a dangerous surface to navigate, especially when it comes to weather, harvest season with farm equipment and clouds of dust created by other vehicles on the gravel road. All of these scenarios can change the gravel conditions quickly.
On Wednesday, Nov. 3rd Turner County Sheriff Office was dispatched to an injury accident just north of Parker on 453rd and 274th. When the deputy arrived, he located three occupants outside the vehicle that had struck a tree. After further investigation and being medically cleared, the driver was arrested for Vehicular Battery, Reckless Driving, DUI 1st, and Open Container in a Motor Vehicle. Both passengers sustained nonlife-threatening injuries.
Local authorities were assisted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Parker Fire, Parker Ambulance, Lennox Ambulance, Marion Ambulance, and Darrell’s Towing of Freeman.
Experts explain that the center of the road is the safest when driving on gravel. Remember to slow down on loose gravel or hard-packed gravel. Avoid sudden changes in direction, such as a swerve to avoid an object or animal on the road. When cresting a hill, move towards the right side of the road in case there is oncoming traffic that isn’t visible.
Drivers should have complete control of their vehicles before increasing speed on gravel.
Accelerate and brake slowly and reduce speed when approaching intersections, curves and hills. Always drive at a pace that allows the vehicle to stop quickly to avoid hazards.
A commonplace for accidents on rural roads is when a paved road suddenly changes to gravel. Typically, the issue is that the driver fails to reduce speed before the changeover to gravel and then loses control of the vehicle.
Increase following distance if there is traffic on the roadway. Even if the visibility is good and the road is hard-packed, stay six seconds behind other vehicles. Increasing this distance when conditions are less than perfect will reduce the danger from a cloud of dust obscuring vision or flying rocks damaging the windshield.