With two different accidents caused by drivers failing to yield the right of way on Tuesday, Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton is urging motorists to pay more attention while driving.
"We had two accidents in one day, one fatal and the other involving a sheriff deputy's patrol car," Sheriff Heaton said. "One driver made a turn in front of a vehicle, and the other pulled out of a driveway into the path of an oncoming vehicle, neither driver said they saw the other vehicle."
Shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, a Coal City man was killed in a rollover accident when a passenger car pulled into the same lane and he swerved to avoid hitting the car.
Later in the afternoon, around 1:42 p.m., the front end of Deputy Benny Boes patrol car was damaged when a another car turned in front of his vehicle in the area of State Road 340 W. and County Road 500 W. No injuries were reported, but both drivers were shook up.
While each accident has different circumstances upon investigation, Heaton said that a driver who doesn't pay attention and causes an accident could face criminal charges.
"They could be charged with failing to yield the right of way. People need to not only watch the 10 feet in front of their car while driving, they need to watch the road in front of them," he said. "It might sound strange, but if you really look at vehicles today, many just seem to blend into the scenery. People really need to be aware while driving."
Heaton says another reason motorists really need to pay attention now is because farmers will soon be on the roadways at all hours of the day with heavy equipment to get the harvest in before bad weather.
"Harvest season is just around the corner, and motorists need to be more alert than ever of their surroundings during this time of year," Heaton said. "Farmers are very good about equipment safety and obeying the rules of the road, but drivers need to pay attention and slow down."
While farmers generally pull off the road in order to let traffic pass, increasing traffic in agricultural areas makes this difficult. According to Heaton, a motorist traveling at 55 mph closes the gap pretty quick on slow-moving farm equipment, which usually travels at speeds of 35 mph or less.
"People need to realize that farm equipment is bigger, slower and harder to move around than a car," he said. "They need to be patient and wait for a farmer to find an area along the road to pull over. It's really just a matter of paying attention."
But there are a lot of distractions for drivers -- technology like cell phones and radios, or just doing something other than driving, like eating or applying make-up.
Heaton says driving is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously, and "motorists need to be more alert than ever of their surroundings during this time of year."