In some states, traffic is paralyzed by a two-inch snowfall. Business
stops, schools close, and life stands still. But not in Wisconsin. Our Department of
Transportation has a sophisticated weather tracking and monitoring system that lets county
plow crews know what type of storm is on the way and the amount of snow that's likely
to fall. Add to that the 1,600 ready-to-roll snowplows and you've got a totally prepared
winter fighting force.
BEFORE THE STORM
Winterizing your car could keep you out of an accident. In
fact, the chances of being involved in car crash are highest in November and December
because people's cars - and their driving habits - aren't properly
prepared. It is important to have your exhaust system, battery,
heater, defroster, wiper
blades, washer fluid, emergency
signals, headlights, tires,
and brakes checked and to replace anything that is worn or
damaged. If you don't feel comfortable checking these things yourself, make an appointment
with a trusted mechanic - the price of winterization is well worth it. Especially when the
alternative is spending the night in a snow bank.......
JUST IN CASE....
Once your vehicle is ready for winter, prepare yourself and
your passengers with a winter car kit which can be easily put together using common
household items. Ideally, your kit will contain essential items you'll need in case
of an emergency. The following list can get you started - don't be afraid to add items
that you think may be helpful that aren't on the list. It is far better to be
over-prepared than under.....
For the utmost in winter car safety you may wish to purchase a cellular phone to make keeping in touch easier.
PLAN AHEAD FOR TRIPS
Before you take a winter trip, tell someone at home where you're going, the route you intend to take and when you expect to arrive. Your local radio and television stations, the cable TV weather channel or local newspaper weather section are great sources of information about weather and road conditions across Wisconsin and the rest of the country. Know your route, be mindful of detours or safety warnings, and leave yourself extra time to reach your destination.
DURING THE STORM
First and foremost, SLOW DOWN! The
number one cause of winter driving accidents is people driving too fast. So please, slow
down. The posted speeds are meant for dry summer road conditions only.
You should keep abreast of weather conditions all winter, even if
you'll be driving a short distance. But if you get caught unexpectedly during a
winter storm, keep your eyes on the road. Use extra caution
during the first few minutes of snow or rain because the pavement gets slippery when
precipitation mixes with oil, grease and dirt.
Use extra caution in warming temperatures
because ice can be wet at 30 degrees and twice as slippery as "dry" ice at zero.
Changing temperatures often cause fog which can be very hard to see when there is snow on
When precipitation starts to get heavy, turn on your headlights so you can see and be seen, even during a daytime storm. Avoid using your high beams during a night storm because they will reflect against the falling snow which actually makes it more difficult to see clearly.
Here are some general driving tips:
HITTING THE SKIDS
Skids happen fast and generally without warning so you have to
act fast to get out of one. Whether you have front wheel or rear wheel drive, your goal is
the same - retain control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe stop.
GIVE THE PLOW A BREAK
The job of the snow plow driver is one of the toughest in the
state. They have to keep going until the job is done no matter what the weather. They have
to cope with swirling snow, foggy windows, slippery roads and icy intersections. So please
"give'em a break."
Snowplows create a swirl of snow which can blind the driver of a car following too closely or even a car approaching from the other direction. So be cautious,courteous,and pass only when it's completely safe. Don't stop too closely behind a stopped snow plow because the driver could be preparing to back up and may not see you.
STRATEGIES FOR THE STUCK AND STALLED
Don't get steamed -relax, stay calm and try to stay
warm. If you're in snow, break out the shovel and clear a path for your drive wheels.
Gently try to drive forward without spinning your wheels. If you start to spin,
you've lost traction. If that doesn't work, try rocking your car back and forth
by gently driving from forward to reverse. Or you can place carpet strips, sand or cat
litter under your drive wheels, then try driving straight out.
If you get caught in a blizzard, or stalled on the road, try to get your car off the road so snow plows can get through. In rural areas, it's best to stay in your car and keep warm until help arrives. Run your engine for short periods, just long enough to stay warm, and leave a window open a crack to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you get stuck at night, leave your dome light on so work crews can spot you easily. Your emergency flasers will also alert other drivers and road crews to your situation.
MORE WAYS TO PLAY IT SAFE