DNR public service announcement urges drivers to slow down, pay attention when driving on backroads
A drive through the forest is certainly inviting on a hot summer day but forest roads aren’t like regular roads, explains a new public service announcement video by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Many DNR-maintained roads into the backcountry are mountain roads, so expect to find them too narrow in places for vehicles to pass easily and with sharp turns or steep grades that may hide approaching traffic.
“It’s easy to get lulled into complacency by the peace and quiet of the outdoors when you are driving through the woods but accidents — serious ones — do happen; we see it all the time,” says Larry Raedel, Chief, DNR Natural Resources Police.
Raedel warns drivers to be alert for road and trail crossings used by hikers, motorized off-road vehicles and equestrians.
Most DNR recreation sites are on state trust lands where timber harvests and other leasing activities generate revenue for schools and other trust beneficiaries. A loaded logging truck coming around a bend on a one-lane forest road can be a real scare. Raedel suggests that when you hear or see a truck approaching, pull off to the side of the road in a designated pullout area so it can pass.
“CB radio monitoring channels are often posted as you enter a logging area but if you don’t have a CB, drive cautiously with your windows rolled down and music off so you’ll have a better chance of hearing approaching trucks,” Raedel says.
Here are more tips to be safe on forest roads:
- Drive defensively. Although most DNR forest roads are unpaved with infrequent traffic, drivers still must expect to encounter other cars and trucks, dirt bikes, hikers, equestrian riders, and logging trucks.
- Obey the rules of the road. You may be in the middle of nowhere, but the rules of the road (and basic common sense) still apply.
- Be careful braking on gravel roads. Give yourself more time and distance when coming to a stop.
- Keep to the right.
- Don’t drive in the dust, mud splatter or mist kicked up by other vehicles.
- Be prepared. Expect to encounter rocks and boulders, road washouts, downed trees and other hazards.
- Recreation trails sometimes cross the road… and are not always visible. Drive slowly and be aware of off-road vehicles, hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian riders on the road.
- Obey road closures. Roads and trails are closed for a variety of reasons, which may include unsafe conditions or environmental reasons. If a road is closed, please follow detour signs.
As you ‘hit the road’ this summer, DNR urges you to be safe, be prepared and stay alert for other traffic on forest roads, whether it’s on four wheels, two wheels, on foot or on hoof.