Road hazards and traffic jams in The County are not the same as you might encounter in city driving.
For example, in The County, the question isn’t “Why did the chicken cross the road”, it’s “Where will the chicken cross the road?” It’s inevitable that the chicken will wander on to The County back roads, and although chickens aren’t usually a traffic hazard, it can be a little disconcerting for urban drivers.
Now wild turkeys, that’s another issue. The County is home to hundreds (maybe thousands) of wild turkeys. They’re not especially graceful flyers, and will fly low and slow until they’re airborne. If you’re in their path during takeoff or landing, you may end up with a wild turkey through your windshield. Just sayin’, watch out for wild turkeys.
Larger animals like deer can present more significant issues for County drivers. Be especially cautious during dawn and dusk in the early spring and late fall. And if you see one deer, there are usually more. Apparently deer hits account for many of the local insurance claims. I received a valuable tip for an investigating police officer many years ago, when a deer ran into the side of my car. It happened during an evening, on the way home from a school play (all my family was in the car at the time). We were all OK, but the incident shook us up and the deer was killed. The officer emphasized “So the deer hit your car, right?” Although this statement was entirely true, the wording also affects how the insurance deals with your claim.
Here are tips from State Farm Insurance, in the event that you have a collision with a deer https://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/6-things-to-do-after-hitting-a-deer/
The County has other road hazards that you may not encounter in the city, including:
- Turtle crossings, especially during the late spring when they’re laying eggs. On a related note, The County is home to the endangered Blandings turtle. TIP: be very careful around turtles. I’ve seen people moving turtles off the roadway, but some of these turtles are snappers. You don’t want to get bitten by a snapping turtle, their jaws can clamp down with up to 656.81 newtons (N) of force.
- Slow farm equipment. Agriculture is a large segment of our local economy. Remember that farmers feed us, be patient.
- Waiting for sheep herds to pass. This happens only occasionally, but consider yourself fortunate if you happen to experience this process in motion.
- Bicycles. The County is popular for cyclists, but the narrow shoulders on many of our roads present hazards for those on bicycles. Slow down and give them lots of space.
- “Sunday drivers”. That’s the term for drivers who are slowly enjoying the scenery while enroute. The County views can be breathtaking, so take your time and enjoy.
County traffic jams
County traffic jams are also different than what you might experience in the city. When I lived in Ottawa, I remember being stuck in long traffic jams on Fridays after work. Our traffic jams can also be annoying, but here are some tips to avoid these occasional concentrations of traffic:
- Lineups for Sandbanks beach can be really long, especially on hot days in the summer. In 2016, electronic road signs were installed to let visitors know if the park is full (yes, sometimes the park is very popular and fills to capacity!) TIPs: Get there early in the day. Check the Sandbanks Twitter account for updates https://twitter.com/sandbankspp
- Lineups for Glenora ferry are longest when visitors are arriving or leaving on weekends. Here is the schedule, and check their Twitter account for updates on delays.
- Picton town hill. Picton has a confusing intersection known as “the town hill”. If you’re coming up the hill (heading into Picton from the east), you have the right-of-way. TIP: if the traffic is stopped on the town hill, don’t park too closely behind large vehicles like farm tractors and trucks. They may have manual transmissions and the vehicle can slide back during takeoff.
- Picton’s Main Street is very busy on weekends during the summer. Don’t avoid Picton though, as there are many wonderful shops and restaurants. Simply avoid the main drag by taking the sidestreets (King Street or Mary Street.)
- Parking in Picton. A bonus of taking the sidestreets is that more parking is available. There are two free parking areas in Picton – Mary Street Parking Lot directly across from Elizabeth Street and Market Lane. Parking Lot with entrances off Ross Street, King Street, and Paul Street. Parking tickets are payable at Shire Hall (332 Main Street) or The Edward Building (280 Main Street, 2nd Floor). Also, there is a drop box located at Shire Hall.
- Picton has an electric car charging station. It’s on King street in the new parking lot across from Benson Park. Many of the local wineries also have charging stations.
And last but not least …
Be sure to fill up with fuel before leaving for the day, as refueling options are limited outside of the main centres. There are gas stations in Rossmore, Picton and Wellington. Here is a map showing locations of gas stations.
For the most part, driving in The County is an enjoyable experience, especially compared to city traffic jams. As I’m traveling along beautiful County roads on my way to work, I’m quite thankful to be living and working in such a wonderful place.