Safety Committee Offers Tips for Safe Winter Driving
While the best thing to do is to stay off the roads when they are snow-covered or icy, that is not always possible. So here is some advice to help you prepare for winter road hazards.
Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by the Lawrence Township Police Department on behalf of the Lawrence Township Public Safety Committee.
Winter has arrived and along with the cold temperature, winter brings its own driving hazards. When the roads are snowy or icy, the best thing to do is to stay off the roads. Since this is not always possible, the Lawrence Township Public Safety Committee reminds residents to be prepared for winter road hazards.
The first step to being prepared for winter driving hazards is to stock your car with supplies that may be needed in an emergency. The following items are recommended for a winter emergency kit for your car. You should have a small shovel, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a blanket, batter booster cables and some bottled water and snacks. Having these items will assist you in the event you unfortunately get stranded.
Before getting on the road, drivers should first check to make certain they can see. Windows and exterior mirrors should be cleared of ice and snow. Check to make sure there is sufficient wiper fluid in the windshield washing system. Exterior lights should also be cleared of ice and snow.
Headlights should be turned on and checked to make sure they are working properly. It is important for other drivers to see your vehicle as well as you being able to see others drivers.
Tires should be checked to ensure there is adequate tread for good traction. Tires should also be checked to be certain the tire pressure is correct for safe braking and steering.
For safe braking, leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you. You should allow at least three times more space than you normally allow between your car and the car in front of you. Additional braking space may be needed if ice and snow are on the roads.
Knowing the type of brakes your vehicle is equipped with is also important. The type of brakes the vehicle has makes a difference in how the brakes should be applied on slick roads.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) need to have steady pressure applied. ABS brakes are not to be pumped, whereas vehicles with standard brakes should have the brakes applied firmly until the wheels stop rolling. At that point the brakes should be released to allow the wheels to start rolling again. This is considered “pumping the brakes.” This method should be used on cars with non-ABS brake systems. Therefore be familiar with the type of braking system your vehicle is equipped with in order to be certain to apply the brakes properly during hazardous conditions.
Just as important as proper braking is proper steering when the roads are slippery. If you begin to skid, the initial action is to take your foot off the accelerator. The car should be steered in the direction you want the front wheels to go. Often the vehicle cannot be re-directed when skidding therefore avoiding the potential for skidding is the best measure to take by driving slowly and being aware of the road conditions while driving in poor weather.
A few general safety tips for winter driving include the following. Bridges and overpasses typically freeze first. Be very cautious on bridges and overpasses as they often freeze before the roadway freezes.
Stay a safe distance behind snow plows and sand trucks. Do not attempt to pass these vehicles as they often have blind spots and may not see your vehicle. In addition, often the roadway in front of these vehicles is worse than the roadway behind them.
Lastly, do not use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads. The vehicle should be in your control when road conditions are challenging
If you must drive in snowy or icy conditions, allow extra time on the road and make certain your car is prepared for winter road conditions. Keep yourself and others on the road safe this winter.