Driving on winter roads

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By Ray Johnson

So far the month of February has proven to be a very snowy month in Harrison County. We have been very fortunate this winter with snow amounts as compared to some states that have had far more than we are experiencing.

The main concern to law enforcement agencies across the state is for people who are driving on these roadways to stay off of them unless you really need to be driving on them. This will cut down on accidents that law enforcement personnel have to work and it will give the crews who are clearing snow from the roadways the chance to get them scraped and salted so they will be better to drive on. It is very hard for these workers, whether it’s state, county or city governments to scrape these roads when there is a lot of vehicles traveling on them. Everybody complains about the conditions of our roads, but what they seldom realize is that it takes time to clear them properly and these workers spend quite a bit of time working on them to make them safe. At times, Mother Nature does not cooperate when it comes to weather conditions. Be patient with each other and especially the workers trying to clear them off. They have a lot of road miles to cover and it takes time.

Three key elements to safe driving in the snow are to stay alert, slow down and stay in control of your vehicle. Many times people who drive in the snow forget to drive slow and end up running off the roadway or colliding with another vehicle. This would not happen if you slow down. People seem to forget that it takes longer to stop on slippery surfaces, so add additional time when stopping. Slow down in snow and icy road conditions, make your turns slowly and make all starts slow and smooth. Remember that bridges may freeze before the regular lanes of travel do on a roadway. Watch out when driving on roadways for black ice. These are areas of the roadway that appear black and shiny and may cause your vehicle to lose traction. Slow down in these areas and keep your foot off the brakes.

Before driving your vehicle always clear any snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors, hood and roof of your vehicle. Give your vehicle a chance to warm up and thaw out. Make sure that the interior windows are kept clear so that you will have appropriate visibility while driving. Use your headlights even in the daylight hours so that your vehicle will be more visible to other vehicles traveling the roadways. Allow yourself enough time to get where you are going. Speed and slippery road conditions do not make for a good combination when driving. The best thing to do if weather conditions are really bad is to stay off the roads unless you really need to be driving.