Now that it is fall-time, everyone and their mother wants to go apple picking. New York has many really nice farms, orchards, and pumpkin patches in eastern Suffolk County, Long Island as well as upstate, New York. These farms often have a numerous amount of fall activities for the whole family. Since Long Island is basically bottlenecked from driving upstate, the easier option for most families is to go to the farms out in Eastern Suffolk.
This annual trend is enjoyed at the expense of Riverhead. Riverhead is the town in Eastern Long Island that is located just before the North fork begins. Most of the farms and orchards on Long Island begin at Riverhead, and extend east into the North Fork. As a result, traffic gets brutal during the fall weekends.
Heavy traffic is nothing new for Long Islanders, but it still poses a hazard for drivers. Additionally, there’s often increased frustration when the traffic is heavy on roads that the driver didn’t anticipate. Roads like Sound Ave and 25 can be bumper to bumper all the way up to the farm’s parking lot. While it is always important to drive safely, it is especially important to drive extra safely in these scenarios where many of the cars have children. Here are some helpful reminders for safe driving in heavy traffic.
If you and your family plan on getting to Riverhead, give yourself plenty of time to get out there. Don’t put yourself in a stressful situation by not taking into account the traffic. You may look at a GPS ahead of time to get a good idea of how long it will take. Keep in mind also that often times there is traffic just before arriving, due to the parking lot being backed up. If you feel rushed, you are more likely to do something unsafe. Check the traffic conditions and leave early.
Traffic is frustrating. And other drivers are also unhappy about it. Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do about it. Most of the farms are right off of Sound Ave or 25, leaving no alternate routes. So it’s best to stay calm and not let it affect your mood. This will prevent you from doing something unsafe in an effort to get through the heavy traffic. Weaving from lane to lane and aggressive acceleration is dangerous. It is not worth getting into an accident to save a mere couple of seconds in traffic. Getting into an accident on a day dedicated to family fun is the last thing you want. Rather, you should do all you can to stay focused, and expect the unexpected in these heavily trafficked scenarios.
When you are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, there is a major temptation to give in to distracted driving. Avoid the temptation to take advantage of the “opportunity” to eat, look at your phone or apply makeup. Often times, other cars make sudden stops, turns and lane changing in heavy traffic and if you are not paying attention, you could easily cause a collision. Additionally, while music can be calming and help pass the time, don’t get too into your music. This is another easy way to lose focus.
While adhering to basic driving fundamentals is always important, it is especially important in heavy traffic situations to always let other drivers be aware of what your vehicle is doing. Long Islanders sometimes have a habit of turning on their directional after they have begun changing lanes. This is not helpful for anyone to anticipate what you are doing, and New York State law require at least a 100 foot warning via turn signal before you turn, merge or change lanes.
Further, it is even more important to check your blind spot before changing lanes. Although it isn’t safe, many cars like to tailgate in heavy traffic so changing lanes can be especially hazardous and only do so if there is a safe amount of space. Avoid cutting people off, it saves you little to no time.
The parking at many of the Riverhead orchards and farms can be very hectic. Parking lots always have the potential of causing a car accident. More than 50000 car accidents occur in a parking lot every year. These parking lots may be more busy then most, so the cars will be coming in and out.
It is very important that you pay lots of attention to your surroundings. Look out for cars backing up, and be careful at intersections. A lot of the lots on the orchards aren’t paved, so be really careful when parking, and give yourself and other cars adequate space. Anticipate the actions of other drivers and be prepared to use your horn if another car does not seem to see you, especially if they are backing up and getting too close. It is also important to drive slow as there are families walking all over the place. You do not want to be liable for a pedestrian accident.
Additionally, do not use your phone while you are driving in a parking lot; you are still driving and it is still a distraction. This is important to mention because studies show that 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving in a parking lot.
Although driving can be hectic, going to an orchard in Riverhead can be a really enjoyable experience for the whole family. Here are a couple orchards out in eastern Long Island and what you can expect should you visit.
Harbes is one of the most popular orchards in Riverhead. It has over 20 varieties of apples along with other fall activities like hayrides, pumpkin picking and a corn maze. They even do special events like the Spooky Maze around Halloween. They also have wine tastings and food concessions.
Located in Calverton, this farm is unique in that it offers a variety of produce you can pick from. In addition to apples, you can pick berries, peppers and eggplants just to name a few. They also have a corn maze and a farm stand.
Parents love Woodside as it not only has apple picking, but they actually make their own hard cider and do weekly tastings. They host these tastings every Saturday and Sunday in both Aquebogue and Jamesport.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.