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Driving rules for winter: Slow down, prepare for trip

December 23, 2011
Salem News

The area has been relatively snow free so far this winter season.

Don't expect it to continue.

Winter soon will show its wrath with snow- and ice-covered roads.

From December 2010 through March, 37,429 crashes occurred on snow, ice or slush covered roadways killing 46 people and injuring 7,844, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Speed was reported as the main cause in 77 percent of these crashes, the patrol reported.

In the event of inclement weather, the patrol is urging 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, takes longer on snow-covered roadways.

Winter driving is something everyone dreads. 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 a prime need for driving safely. 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 freeze easily. Regular washer fluid freezes as temperatures drop to their wintertime lows. There are fluids with lower freezing points.

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

Be patient. Remember there are fellow human beings in other vehicles, not targets of opportunity to be passed.

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

The highway patrol recommends the kit should include a cell phone with car charger; road flares or reflectors; help or call police signs; a first-aid kit; flashlight; blanket or sleeping bag; a small shovel; bottled water and energy foods; candles and matches; and tow strap or chain.

Many states have phone or Internet services 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 and take your time when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads.



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