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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Campus Officials Give Safety Tips for Cold, Stormy Weather

A+group+of+runners+running+the+Al+Brenda+Track+in+the+aftermath+of+the+storm.+The+sky+is+still+cloudy+and+there+is+a+rainbow+behind+them.+%28Signal+Photo%2FIsabel+Arrizano%29

A group of runners running the Al Brenda Track in the aftermath of the storm. The sky is still cloudy and there is a rainbow behind them. (Signal Photo/Isabel Arrizano)

As another storm finds its way back into the region, the campus community wants students to take precautions. Oftentimes during rainy conditions, we forget about the hazards it poses and we decide to drive unsafely. 

The storm is expected to last from February 18th until February 21st.

Lieutenant Givo Ysael with the University Police explains the risks of driving in adverse weather conditions. 

“Every form of speed kills.” The lieutenant says. “By reducing speed you are increasing your reaction time to apply your brakes.”

Lieutenant Ysael explains, depending on the weather conditions, to increase your driving distance from other vehicles to four or five seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.

“Typically the recommendation is two seconds during normal weather conditions to stay behind someone, depending on speed, but ideally you want to be two seconds behind,” he says, “However, during raining conditions, wet conditions, foggy conditions, or adverse weather conditions it’s ideal to at least put four to five seconds between you and the car in front of you. That way if the car in front of you does have to brake suddenly you have enough time to react.”

Another important factor to consider when driving is flooding and windy conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued flood watch warnings for the Stockton, Modesto, and Turlock area that will extend from February 18, 2024, to 4:00am the 21st.

The wind advisory is expected to last until 4:00am the 20th.

The local weather emergency alert system, StanEmergency, states the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flood warnings are issued every 12 to 36 hours in advance to potential flooding conditions.

For those driving smart cars, Lieutenant Yasel advises to not drive the vehicle on cruise control.

“One thing that I would certainly recommend especially on the freeways, people get a little complacent especially with smart cars, is cruise controls, you know the Teslas and the self-driving ability of the smart cars, if you will. I would highly recommend people not to use cruise control or autopilot features in certain model vehicles for obvious reasons,” he says.

He states this feature created to assist people on roads can actually be dangerous during this time.

“Again, everything goes back to reaction time, cause we’re talking milliseconds,” he says, “How much time do I have to apply my brakes to stop safely and how much time is reduced if I do have the autopilot engaged and my attention span is elsewhere? We’re talking milliseconds but that milliseconds could mean the difference between a tragic accident or not.” 

Lieutenant Ysael also offers tips on how to stay vigilant during these conditions.

“Obviously when you’re driving you clearly have to be alert and focused under normal conditions. Under adverse weather conditions, that heightened level of focus needs to be more so,” he says, “So you’ve got your hands at the 10 and 2, you’re slowing down, you’ve got a good separation between you and the vehicle in front of you, you don’t have your cruise control on. So you’re hypervigilant now.” 

Staying alert is one thing the lieutenant makes clear. 

“You’re looking in your mirror, you’re watching your 360 to ensure that people are not coming to a skid stop as they, you know, time and distance. They misjudge the distance between a stop sign or a red light or they just can’t come to a stop because they wanna go through the light but it’s yellow,” he says.

He also mentions that not staying vigilant and not following some of these recommendations are a cause of several on-campus accidents.  

“There’s a lot of intersections right here on our campus where we see weekly car accidents and it’s for those reasons,” he says. 

Due to the way roads are structured on campus, and in an effort to keep the roads safe, University Police conducts speed enforcement. 

“Around the campus, we see people doing various speeds and we do speed enforcement. Ideally, we want everybody to go 15 miles an hour around the campus. Now, 15 miles an hour is a safe speed. But we have one giant road that goes around our campus that has a lot of turns in it and some of those turns have blind spots,” says Lieutenant Ysael.

Hydroplaning while driving is also a risk one needs to be careful of when driving in stormy weather. Hydroplaning is when a vehicle tire loses traction from asphalt because of water, ice, or other slippery conditions.

Lieutenant Ysael adds that in these situations you cannot rely on trusting other drivers on the road to be driving safely.

“So the understanding is that people are going to be following the rules of the law,” he says, “But I’m not going to rely on trust to ensure that someone else is following the rules and laws I am. So I’m going to reduce my speed to ten miles an hour. And if I’m running late, then you know, I’m going to set my alarm clock a few minutes earlier than what I had the previous days or weeks or months, because I know that for the next week, month or two, the weather is going to be nasty. So I’m going to reduce my speed around campus, especially with everybody walking around from 15, 20 miles an hour to a comfortable ten miles an hour.”

If you know you will come across an area which usually floods or has bad roads, Lieutenant Ysael recommends avoiding that area to prevent hydroplaning. 

“You know, when I used to live just down the street here, I knew that there was always a puddle of water that was going to occur in a certain location. Right? So I would always avoid that certain location during the day, during, you know, dry conditions,” he says, “It’s obviously not there, but in the rain. I know that, okay, avoid this area or go around this area because there’s inevitably going to be a half foot puddle of water that is going to send my vehicle into a hydroplane.” 
For more information and to continue to stay updated throughout the storm, Stanislaus County has issued information on what to do before, during, and after flooding on stanemergency.com. The National Weather Service issues detailed forecast information for the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

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Campus Officials Give Safety Tips for Cold, Stormy Weather