Be cautious on roads as weather turns colder

Drivers surprised by icy rain and snow spitting from the skies recently know it is only a matter of time before we are regularly faced with driving conditions that require a different skill set from those warm sunny summer drives.

In fact, some counties have already had the de-icing trucks out and about.

Mahoning Valley roads are not always straight or flat. There are plenty of places where our turns and hills combine to prompt out-of-town passengers to gasp when enjoying a ride in more pleasant weather.

Those of us who have been driving in winter weather for years must remember that each year there is a new crop of young people testing their skills for the first time. Should you be in a position to counsel one of them, now is your chance.

And while you are at it, take a look at your own vehicles. How are those tires and brakes? Are the batteries going to hold up through another season? Is there an ice scraper in there, and maybe even some sand or kitty litter, just in case?

Other reminders from AAA include keeping your gas tank at least half full, avoiding using your parking brake in cold and snowy weather, and not warming up your car in an enclosed garage.

And, should you find yourself in a tricky driving situation: do not use cruise control, always look and steer where you want to go, avoid accelerating and decelerating suddenly, allow more distance for braking … and wear your seat belts.

As a matter of fact, the last piece of advice on AAA’s Winter Driving Tips website is “Stay home.”

Because that is not feasible for many of us, the next best piece of advice is to use your heads and not forget the conditions in which you are driving. Be careful out there, folks.