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Driving in Winter Weather Requires Preparation and Caution
Posted Date: 1/2/2013 1:00 PM

According to federal transportation figures, about one in four weather-related vehicle crashes in the US occurs on snowy, slushy or icy roadways. That's why the Greensboro Police urge you to prepare in advance for treacherous winter driving.

“Proper planning is one of the best ways to avoid trouble when traveling during winter months,” said Greensboro police officer L.J. Lewis. “Prepare your vehicle for the cold and snow; check its battery, tire tread, defroster, and windshield wipers. Put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.”

Lewis also advises you to stock your vehicles with winter necessities. “Have on hand jumper cables, a flashlight, abrasive material (sand, non-clumping kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares or warning triangles) and blankets," he said. "For long trips, add food and water, medication and cell phone.”

Knowing the weather forecast and planning your route can also make any trip safer. “Check the weather. If a big storm is forecasted, reschedule your trip if possible. It’s better to arrive late and safe than not at all,” Lewis said. “If you must drive, allow plenty of time for your trip. Be familiar with the maps/directions, and let others know your route and arrival time.” 

To reduce your chances of being involved in a crash when driving in adverse weather conditions this winter, Greensboro police also encourage you to:
• Reduce your speed.
• Allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Stopping distances are longer on wet and icy roads.
• Turn your lights on.
• Keep your eyes open for disabled vehicles and pedestrians who might be in the roadway.
• Approach bridges and overpasses with caution. These areas accumulate ice first. Apply your brakes gently in these areas.
• Avoid sudden braking. This can cause your vehicle to go into a slide.

If your vehicle begins to slide, remain calm and take these steps:
• Take your foot off the accelerator.
• Do not apply your brakes.
• Turn the steering wheel in the direction the rear of your car is sliding.

If your vehicle stalls or becomes disabled:
• Pull off the roadway as far as possible. If safe, place a warning triangle approximately 50 yards behind your car to alert other motorists that your vehicle is ahead
• Turn on your emergency flashers and raise the hood or tie a cloth/flag to the antenna or window.
• Stay in your vehicle and lock the doors.
• Run your car just enough to stay warm. Ensure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed and roll down your window about an inch to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Call 9-1-1 for help. Greensboro police and the City’s Incident Management Assistance Patrol (or IMAP) are on duty 24-hours a day and will come to your assistance.

Meanwhile, the Greensboro Police Department will concentrate its enforcement efforts on moving violations associated with driving in winter weather. Officers will use marked and unmarked vehicles in both stationary and roving patrols in order to detect, warn, and cite offenders. 

“We’ll be looking for operators who don’t decrease speed in adverse driving conditions,” said Lewis. North Carolina law makes it an offense to drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. “In other words, if the roads are wet or icy, you must adjust your speed to compensate for the unsafe roadway conditions,” explained Lewis. “You could be cited for unsafe speed even if you are driving the posted speed limit.”

Following another vehicle too closely is another unsafe act that officers will be on the lookout for. “This is another offense that can result in a citation,” warned Lewis. “The law requires motorists to adjust the distance between vehicles based on road conditions.”

“Issuing citations is really not what we prefer to do,” Lewis said. “We would much rather people drive cautiously in winter conditions and avoid accidents all together. But, if we need to issue citations in order to keep our roadways safe, we’ll do it.”

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