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Published On: Tue, Feb 20th, 2018

Many Drivers are Unprepared for Winter Weather Driving

With many parts of North America facing severe winter weather, officials are finding that many drivers are not prepared for winter weather driving.

The Missouri Department of Transportation sent a reminder to drivers to be extra-cautious while driving in forecasted winter weather. Snow accumulations of one to two inches was expected this week.

Officials say most accidents occur when drivers are traveling too fast in deteriorating weather conditions. The state’s Department of Transportation has cautioned drivers to slow down, brake and steer gently, allow for extra space in between vehicles, and accelerate slowly when leaving intersections.

photo Scott Davidson

Drivers should also stay at least 100 feet away from plows that are spreading salt, and avoid passing plow trucks.

Ramps, bridges and overpasses – the areas that see more commuting drivers – will be the first areas to freeze over.

Missouri’s Department of Transportation wasn’t the only agency to issue warnings and cautions to drivers. In Iowa, the Department of Transportation is warning drivers to check the weather forecast before venturing out onto the roads.

The agency is also asking drivers to travel at speeds far lower than the speed limit and to keep their headlights on. Officials also note that it’s important to keep tail lights clear of snow, and drivers should avoid using cruise control when driving in hazardous winter weather.

Another tip shared by Ankin Law Office LLC is to keep an extra pair of gloves and a shovel in your vehicle as part of your “cold weather survival kit.”

CBS Chicago also recommends avoiding back roads when traveling in the snow and ice. Populated roads are more likely to be plowed.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving in the current conditions, stay home unless absolutely necessary. If you must drive, minimize distractions. Put the cell phone away, and consider leaving the radio off. The key most important thing is to stay focused and concentrated on the road at all times.

Placing something heavy in your trunk can also help you gain traction if the road becomes a sheet of ice. Heavy objects may lower your gas mileage, but will give you the traction you need to get safely down the road. Bags of cat litter or sand are two simple and effective ways to weigh down your vehicle.

Americans drivers aren’t the only ones battling winter weather on the roads. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) says that drivers are not as ready for winter weather as they could be.

The agency conducted a survey of more than 1,000 of its members, and found that:

  • 7% of drivers did not clean snow off of their vehicles.
  • 44% did not have a winter safety kit.
  • 46% agree that there aren’t enough “snow days” available for bad weather

The CAA says drivers should make the switch to winter tires when temperatures reach 7 C and to remove them in early spring. Officials also recommend keeping a winter safety kit in your vehicle in case of an emergency during winter weather. The kit should include a blanket, an extra pair of warm clothes, water and non-perishable food.

Author: Jacob Maslow

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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