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Time, preparation key to winter driving PDF Print E-mail
Friday, November 29, 2013 9:10 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — Driving on snow- and ice-covered pavements can be very demanding for even the most skilled driver. Whether maneuvering in the white fluffy stuff or slushy ice, drivers should make extra preparations before starting out on the road and keep in mind some safety tips in order to arrive at their destination safely.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends drivers follow these tips for safer winter travel: avoid driving while fatigued; never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area; properly inflate tires and never mix radial tires with other tire types; keep the gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up; do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surfaces; and always use a seat belt while driving.

Delphos Police Chief Kyle Fittro says each year during the winter, he sees the same types of accidents and most of them can be attributed to human error in judgement.

“Drivers just need to take a little extra time,” Fittro said. “They follow too closely behind a car or approach a stop sign too quickly for the weather conditions and end up rear-ending a car or sliding through an intersection and T-boning another vehicle.”

There a plenty of new drivers trying to navigate in snowy conditions and it is crucial to review the skills and special considerations required to handle weather-related driving conditions. Mastering these skills could mean the difference between a safe driving experience and one with disastrous results.

Tri-County Driving School Instructor Tom Osting says one of the biggest problems he has is parents protecting kids and not allowing them to drive in the ice and snow.

“Young drivers with a permit should be driving in the winter weather with their parent,” Osting said. “Kids need 50 hours of drive time — 40 during the day and 10 at night.”

Osting stresses exercising some preventative measures for driving during the winter months. He said tires are a huge part of driving and those that are worn to 3/32-inch or less will not grip the road well. He recommends having all four tires inspected and purchasing new ones if the tread is worn past 3/32.

“If it’s snowing or raining, make sure the vehicle’s headlights are turned on,” Osting elaborated. “It’s a state law that drivers must use headlights when the windshield wipers are on.”

In addition, if the vehicle has anti-lock brakes, Osting says not to pump them if the car begins sliding.

“Everybody has a gut feeling and whether a driver is in snow, fog or rain, listen to that gut feeling and drive in accordance,” he said.

AAA has these tips for driving in the snow:

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly;

• Drive slowly since everything takes longer on snow-covered roads;

• The following distance should be increased to eight to 10 seconds, which will increase margin of safety and provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop;

• Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking;

• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. Slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes;

• Don’t power up hills;

• Don’t stop going up a hill; and

• Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.


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