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Ten Tips for Safe Winter Driving

This morning I woke up to my cell phone message alert.  The message was from the Centera Bank Textcaster advising that school would not begin until 10:00am due to weather conditions. (You too can sign up for Textcaster Messages by clicking the button on the right.) 

 I then went and got a cup of coffee, looked out the window to a beautiful winter scene, and began preparing for what is generally a busy day in my line of work.  It would be a day of slid offs, accidents, talking to motorists about their poor driving decisions, and answering questions about road conditions. 

I would like to give you ten tips to help prepare everyone for winter driving and hopefully prevent accidents in doing so.

  1. Leave in plenty of time.  You will not be able to reach your destination in the same amount of time as you can when the driving conditions are good.
  2. Keep your lights and windows clean.  My last article talked about the importance of keeping your windows clean of snow and ice.  It is also important to keep your lights cleaned off to make you more visible when visibility is already low.
  3. Turn on your lights even in daylight conditions.
  4. Take your foot off the gas and put your car in neutral when approaching intersections, stop signs, vehicles, and pedestrians. This tip will help prevent your vehicle from sliding.
  5. Use extra caution on bridges and minimally traveled roads.  These roads will be the first to freeze. 
  6. Take your foot off the gas if your vehicle begins to skid.
  7. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.  If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure to the brakes.
  8. Slow down and leave plenty of room to bring your vehicle to a stop.  It will take you at least 3 times the distance to bring your vehicle to a stop during icy driving conditions.
  9. DO NOT use your cruise control when roads are slick.  The cruise control is also dangerous when the roads are patchy.  You will not be able to prevent the wheels on your vehicle from spinning if the cruise control is on.
  10. If you can avoid it, do not drive at all.

If you do have to drive, you can call 511 for Kansas highway conditions or look on the web at http://511.ksdot.org/KanRoadPublic_VE/Default.aspx.