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Given our weather of late, let’s all be careful and safe

We’ve been reminded during recent days about the concerns emerging when the snow begins to fly. Winter has caught up with us of late. We have had our share of snow. The forecast for this Sunday-through-Wednesday could bring us inches more of snow.

We realize that most drivers do not need a full tutorial on winter driving. Especially those us who grew up in these kinds of driving conditions. Seasoned drivers are aware of the hazards that can strike at a moment’s notice.

You have read the accident reports on our pages and online site. Certainly more of then now than during better weather times.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and state police agencies report driving too fast for conditions accounts for more than half of winter crashes. Distracted driving doesn’t help either.

Law enforcement at all levels 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 take longer on snow-covered roadways. Keep in mind that although all-wheel drive is a big plus in the snow, SUVs and trucks are not immune from sliding, slipping and at times rolling over. Four-wheel drives assists with traction for sure. But ice rules regardless of whatever you are driving.

Everyone dreads waking up on a workday to a fresh snowfall. Schools may be delayed or closed, but drivers still have to get to work on time. Some simple precautions can increase your 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 necessary for safe driving. 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 easily freeze. Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. Keep your fuel tank as full as possible. Being stranded with your gas gauge tickling “empty” would not be good.

If your destination is some distance away, keep a winter-driving kit in your vehicle. Law enforcement officials say that kit should include a cellphone 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. Keep a pair of winter wear boots in your vehicle if your habit it not to actually wear any when leaving your home.

Being prepared is the best way to deal with winter driving — there are phone numbers and websites that offer up-to-date road conditions. Check ahead to see what you may be facing and be prepared to change plans accordingly. Also, keep an eye on weather forecasts for your area. Doing that should be as routine as making a cup of coffee or pouring a cup of juice each morning.

And, when you are at home remember your responsibilities. Residents and business owners are required to clean snow and ice from sidewalks in front of their locations. Newspaper carriers, postal workers and other delivery folks truly appreciate that.

The time limits for completing that work and fines for failure to do so vary from community to community, but they do exist — and should be respected. Failure to keep sidewalks open can put pedestrians in danger — from slipping on ice or from having to walk in the street to avoid covered pathways.

Some communities in our region have special on-street parking regulations that go into effect when it snows. Know what the restrictions are for your community and respect them — they are in place to ensure snow removal crews can do their work in a safe and efficient manner.

While you’re shoveling, don’t forget to keep the area in front of your mailbox and newspaper delivery box clear. That allows postal employees and newspaper delivery people the opportunity to complete their jobs in a safe manner. If your home has a fire hydrant on its property, clean that too.

Patience, acceptance of bad conditions and making adjustments are keys to safe winter driving. If we all abide by those our roadways become safer for all concerned.

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