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Caution motorists: winter is here

Staff writer

To drive or not to drive – often that is the question during the winter.

Sheriff Rob Craft has several recommendations for winter safe driving.

Start thinking about a safe trip before you put your foot on the accelerator, Craft said.

“Clear all the ice and snow off the windshields and side windows,” Craft said.

Drivers want to be able to see all around, Craft said. That way they can see where they are going as well as where others are going.

“Absolutely the first thing to do before you start is buckle up,” Craft said.

Even with a slide-off, a seatbelt can keep passengers from striking the steering wheel, side doors, dashboard and other dangerous surfaces.

Once started on the road, slow down, Craft said. Never use cruise control in any sort of adverse conditions.

Drivers should use turn signals every time they turn, and turn on their headlights every time they turn on windshield wipers, Craft said. Cars with automatic headlights don’t always turn them on when the wipers are running, he pointed out.

Emergency Management Director Randy Frank offered additional tips.

Always have a cell phone in the car.

“Make sure your car is always in good operating condition,” Frank said. “Adverse weather is always a challenge driving, so be prepared.”

Frank said drivers need to be aware of their exact location. Even on a road they are used to driving, they need to be aware of where the cross roads are so they can tell emergency responders where they are.

He also recommended that people think before they drive in poor weather conditions.

“If you honestly don’t have to be there, unless it’s a life-stake issue, stay home,” Frank said.

Both drivers and emergency responders are safer that way, Frank added.

Besides tips offered by Craft and Frank, Kansas Department of Transportation recommends several winter storm driving tips. Avoid quick braking or acceleration, and find out about driving conditions before setting out.

If drivers are stranded, KDOT recommends:

  • Stay in your vehicle. Do not attempt to find help by walking. You can quickly become disoriented in blowing and drifting snow. Your car provides the best protection from the weather and you are more likely to be discovered by highway maintenance crews or law enforcement officers if you remain in your car.
  • Keep fresh air circulating. Carbon monoxide can build up in a tightly closed vehicle, especially one sealed by blowing or drifting snow. Run the motor sparingly and open only the downwind window to provide proper ventilation.
  • Keep active. Clap your hands and move your arms and legs vigorously from time to time to stimulate circulation, relieve muscle tension and help keep you awake.
  • Turn on your dome light. The light will help you observe others in the car and make your car visible to passersby.
  • Do not permit all occupants of the vehicle to sleep at the same time.

Last modified Jan. 28, 2016

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