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Safe driving tips for Canton's most slippery season

Photo Credit: Fiel image

PHOTO: Winter driving presents challenges and dangers for drivers in northeast Ohio, including slippery road surfaces, limited visibility and freezing temperatures.
By Captain Dave Davis
Released/Published: Dec 25, 2009

Winter driving presents challenges and dangers for drivers in northeast Ohio, including slippery road surfaces, limited visibility and freezing temperatures.  Basic preparations for your car and a gentle driving style will increase your chances of skating through the season without a scratch.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure that you and your car are prepared by following these common sense winter driving tips.

First things first
While parking your car in a garage or carport will save you precious minutes during your morning commute, remember that it is extremely dangerous to warm up any vehicle in an enclosed area.  Always make sure that your exhaust and carbon monoxide fumes can easily escape through an open door or ventilation system – no amount of time saved from windshield scraping is worth putting you and your family at risk!

Before hitting the road…

− Make certain your tires are properly inflated and in good working condition. Partially worn or worn tires significantly reduce your ability to get going and stop in snowy conditions.        

− If snow has fallen since your car was last parked, take the time to thoroughly brush off your windshield and windows – including the roof – and scrape away ice from the headlamps, taillights, and registration tags .  This guarantees optimum visibility for both you and other drivers, and prevents large clumps of snow from flying off of your vehicle and endangering other motorists.  Not to mention – Ohio law requires your registration tags to remain unobstructed at all times.

− Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.  When entering the car, kick as much snow off of your feet as possible. Snow tracked inside the car can contribute to window fogging.

− If your trip outdoors involves any type of extended driving, be sure to carry an emergency kit in your trunk as well as a fully charged cell phone.  You should also inform your family or friends of your intended schedule.

While out and about…

− First and foremost, always wear your seat belt.  Not only will it give you a 70% chance of surviving an auto accident, it’s the law!

− During poor weather conditions, be sure to drive with your headlights on.  Ohio law requires that you do – even during the daytime – to increase the chances that other drivers will notice you and lower the risks of traffic crash.

− When driving on snow or ice SLOW DOWN.  Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads.  Starting, stopping, and turning cannot be done as quickly as on dry pavement.  Give yourself extra time to maneuver by driving more slowly.  For example, on snow and ice, cars traveling 30 mph should be at least six car lengths apart.  Also be aware on snow-covered roadways, trucks take even longer to stop.  Be sure to give them some extra space and never cut in front of them.

− Be wary and slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady spots.  These all have potential to develop black ice – which is virtually invisible – and makes driving hazardous. 

− Train yourself to look farther ahead in traffic. Actions by other drivers will alert you to problems and give you extra time to react.

− Avoid using cruise control or overdrive on snow or ice.  Cruise control does not take road conditions into consideration; don't let your car make a bad decision for you.

− Stopping on snow and ice without skidding requires extra time and distance. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal. Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop.

− Don't let four or all-wheel drive cars give you a false sense of security. 4WD and AWD systems only provide extra traction when accelerating. They provide no advantage when braking or cornering.

− When stalled or stuck in snow, stay inside your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth.  Be sure your exhaust is clear of obstructions such as snowdrifts when idling.

Staying home….

While these tips will help you when you need to travel during inclement weather, always ask yourself whether you truly need to be out and about.  If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.  Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.  If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, enjoy the snow from indoors.

For additional information about safe driving, or to learn more about the Canton Police Department, call (330) 489-3100.

Contact Information: Captain Dave Davis - (330) 489-3100

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