On January 14, 2016

Winter driving conditions make winter tires and safe speeds critical to safety

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) remind motorists that snow and ice are now a part of everyone’s daily driving experience in Vermont and now is the time to start preparations for winter.

“The first storm of the year is when we typically see a lot of easily preventable crashes,” says Todd Law, state maintenance engineer at VTrans. “Many people haven’t put their winter tires on yet and tend to drive too fast for the conditions, creating a higher chance of losing vehicle control. VTrans has a comprehensive snow and ice control plan, but it’s still necessary to slow down and drive based on the conditions of the road.”

For optimum safety during winter driving conditions, VTrans recommends that your vehicle be in good operating condition. Check fluid levels, particularly windshield washer fluid, and make sure the defroster and heater are working and that your brakes, battery, lights, and wiper blades are in good condition.

Always choose real winter tires, not “all season” for the best traction possible in winter conditions. Winter tires are specifically designed for temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and work in conjunction with safety features such as four-wheel-drive.

Before driving, always clear snow and ice from all windows, lights and the roof of your vehicle.  Snow and ice falling from a vehicle can create hazards for you and other drivers.

Remember that posted speed limits are for dry pavement so always drive for the actual conditions. Be patient and accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid skids on a snow or ice covered road. It will take longer to slow down on an icy road, so slow down early and slowly when approaching stop lights and stop signs. Use brakes carefully and avoid slamming on brakes.

It is true that bridges freeze before roads. Because road conditions in inclement weather can change quickly, don’t use cruise control in winter conditions. When operating a four-wheel-drive vehicle keep in mind that four-wheel-drive is good for traction, but it won’t stop you any faster, particularly not without winter tires.

Last, but not least, do not crowd plow trucks. Plow trucks travel slower than the posted speed limit while removing snow and ice and have limited visibility. When passing a snowplow, allow plenty of room and do not cut back in front of the plow too quickly. When meeting a snowplow on a two-way road, move as far away from the center as you safely can. Treat plow trucks like the mobile work zones that they are.

Winter driving demands that you keep your eyes on the road, allow extra time and know your limitations. Slower speeds, slower steering and slower braking are all good rules to follow. If the weather is bad and you don’t have to travel, stay at home. Don’t forget to always buckle up and put the phone down.

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