Safe Driving In Winter Weather

Wednesday, January 23rd 2008, 12:54 pm
By: News On 6

It always seems like winter weather sweeps in when you least expect it, and often when you're least prepared.

As anchor Margaret Stokes learned from State Trooper Jimmy Dillenburg, by keeping a few items in your car and knowing the basics about driving in icy conditions it's easy to stay ahead of the game.

Most people know that when it comes to ice the most dangerous areas for drivers are bridges and overpasses.  While that's true, the number one mistake people make when heading out in icy conditions is ignoring their fuel tanks.

"Make sure you got gas in your car.  A lot of time we run into people with no gas, that's the biggest thing," warns Trooper Dillenburg.

Now if you do find yourself stuck on the side of the road waiting for assistance, having a few essentials can make the wait a lot more comfortable.

"What we would recommend of course would be having blankets, and water those are the two biggest things. The third thing I would keep in my car is of course flashlights. That way if you're stranded you have a way to flash somebody down. They can see you at night and you can see what's going on as well," said Dillenburg.

In icy or wet conditions you might not realize that if you get in an accident and you're going the speed limit, maybe even under the limit you can still get a ticket.

"Anytime you're driving we use what we call the reasonable and proper standard. The reasonable person should be able to maintain control of that vehicle no matter what speed they're going. Even if the speed limit is 50 mph and you're going 30 mph, you have lost control of your vehicle. Reasonably you should be able to maintain control of that vehicle. If you lose control now you have a one ton machine just bouncing around on the road," said Dillenburg.

So the best idea is to just slow down.

Dillenburg also had advice about skidding.

"The biggest thing is don't mash on your breaks. The instant you hit the brakes you'll start spinning. The reason is you lose friction.  That rolling friction.  That's what keeps your car going straight. The car itself will eventually straighten it out. It's designed to straighten itself out. The biggest thing is don't mash on those brakes.  When you're on ice and snow you really can't turn into the skids there's not much you can do," said Dillenburg.

Remember to drive with your headlights on, and to keep a cell phone charged and handy.   Keeping up with road conditions is also a good idea.  Details on all of these topics can be found right here in the Advanced Weather Section.

Margaret Stokes