Be careful driving on the winter roads

Drivers got their first taste of winter driving this week, albeit the snow was mainly on the grass.

Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Driving during the winter months can be quite challenging. Black ice, heavy snow, freezing temperatures and long nights combine for an impact on drivers.

Law enforcement reports driving too fast for conditions accounts for more than one-half of winter accidents. Officials urge motorists to allow extra time to get to their destination, maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the traffic ahead, pay close attention to bridges and overpasses — as they are often the first to freeze over — and to drive slowly, as everything including accelerating, turning and braking take longer on snow-covered roadways.

Everyone dreads waking up on a workday to a fresh snowfall. Schools might be delayed or closed but drivers still have to get to work on time.

But taking some simple precautions can increase chances of safely getting to your destination.

Clear away snow from your car’s windows, and from the entire vehicle. Wait for your car to warm up and melt ice on the windows. Being able to see is necessary for safe driving. That’s also why drivers should clear snow from their vehicle. Snow blowing off a moving car can blind other drivers.

Make sure your windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled with fluid that doesn’t easily freeze. Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. Check the vehicle’s battery and tires.

Be sure you know where your snow brush and ice scraper are. Buy new ones if the old ones are worn out.

If your destination is some distance away, keep a winter-driving kit in your vehicle.

AAA recommends the kit should include sand or cat litter, a small shovel, flashlight, an ice scraper or snow brush, booster cables, a blanket, gloves or mittens and flares or reflective triangles.

Many states have phone numbers or websites for up-to-date road conditions. Check ahead to see what you may be facing and change plans accordingly. Also, keep an eye on weather forecasts for that area.

Being prepared is the best way to deal with winter driving.

Be patient this winter, and take your time when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads.


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