Archive for Sunday, December 18, 2005

Experts offer tips on navigating winter roads

December 18, 2005


Recent snowfall finally broke in the city's snow plows.

It also tested the ability of Lawrence drivers to maneuver in slick road conditions.

We did pretty well. Lawrence Police responded to 60 wrecks in Douglas County during the first snow earlier this month, mainly dings and fender-benders, and about that many with Saturday's snow.

Still, we all could use a refresher course now and then - especially early in the season.

Here are some tips from law enforcement officials and driving instructors to keep you safe on the road the next time snow and ice hit:

The first snowfall of the year, Dec. 7, caught many motorists off guard. At least 60 accidents were reported in Lawrence that day, and just as many were reported with Saturday's snowstorm.

The first snowfall of the year, Dec. 7, caught many motorists off guard. At least 60 accidents were reported in Lawrence that day, and just as many were reported with Saturday's snowstorm.

¢ Watch the weather forecast and only travel when absolutely necessary if inclement conditions are expected.

¢ Allow plenty of travel time to avoid hurrying on the road.

¢ The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests having a mechanic check the following items on your car each winter: battery, antifreeze, wipers and washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster and oil level. Also make sure tires have adequate tread for winter.

¢ Fully clear front, back and side windows, as well as mirrors and lights. Also brush off snow from the hood, roof and trunk. "People have been killed because they did not have the vision that was necessary to drive safely," says Lt. John Eichkorn of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Winter survival kit

The Kansas Highway Patrol recommends that winter motorists arm themselves with a survival kit that includes at least the following items: ¢ Ice scraper and shovel ¢ Jumper cables ¢ Flashlights with extra batteries ¢ Sand or kitty litter for traction ¢ Extra clothing or blankets ¢ Nonperishable food ¢ Water ¢ First aid kit ¢ Matches and candles or flares ¢ Towrope or chain

¢ Accelerate slowly from a stop and slow down early when approaching an intersection. Use lower gears to help increase traction and reduce tire spin during stops and starts.

¢ Follow Kansas speed law, which posts a speed limit but requires drivers to adjust speed so that it's "reasonable and prudent for existing conditions," says Brenda Soldani, drivers education coordinator for the Lawrence school district. "If you are going down Clinton Parkway and it's freezing rain and it says 40 miles per hour, do you really go 40?"

¢ Increase following distance. Larry Krull, owner of Lawrence's Midwest Driving School, tells his students to allow one car length for every 10 miles per hour, increasing that distance in adverse conditions. Eichkorn of the highway patrol cites the two-second rule. "Obviously when it's snowy, icy, when the roads are wet, we always encourage people to increase that following distance," he says.

¢ Practice defensive driving, especially when approaching intersections. Be aware of vehicles that look likely to slide through the intersection. Allowing other motorists to make mistakes can keep you out of accidents.

¢ Don't use cruise control in inclement weather, Eichkornsays. Keeping your foot on the accelerator makes you more aware of when you're losing traction and need to react.

If you get stranded

Don't panic if you find yourself stranded in a winter storm. Stay in the vehicle, keep fresh air circulating through a downwind window, run the motor sparingly, turn on the dome light, and stimulate circulation and stay awake by moving arms and legs. If you leave the car, walk slowly in the snow to avoid over-exertion and the risk of heart attack. If you have a cell phone, you can call a Kansas Highway Patrol dispatcher by dialing *HP (47) or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.

Source: Kansas Highway Patrol

¢ Know your vehicle's brake system. In cars with anti-lockbrakes, drivers should apply steady pressure in low-traction situations. Non-anti-lock brakes should be pumped slowly.

¢ If your car loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go.

¢ Be especially cautious at intersections, which are likely to be more slick because starting and stopping vehicles melt snow and ice, which constantly refreezes and builds up. Bridges also tend to be more slippery because frigid winds blow below the structure, quickly freezing moisture on the road above.

¢ Young drivers should spend as much time as possible watching how their parents drive in ice and snow. "The more time we spend with younger drivers, supervising them, the safer they're going to be," Eichkorn said.

¢ Always keep your gas tank at least half full and carry a survival kit. "You want to make sure you have materials in case you get stuck: flashlights, blankets, water," says Bill Kennedy, owner of the Drive-Right School of Lawrence. "I always recommend cell phones or OnStar. You want to stay warm, be able to see and contact someone."

Being prepared, exercising caution and being aware of what's going on will go a long way toward keeping drivers safe this winter.

"Always listen to the weather reports and anticipate," says drivers education coordinator Soldani. "If they say there's a 50 percent chance of snow, make sure that you have gas in your vehicle, windshield fluid in your vehicle, your heater's working. And by all means, slow down and take your time."


classclown 12 years, 3 months ago

All the safety tips you need to know:

1) It's not a good thing to drive at the same speed and generel carelessness that you do when the weather is good and the streets clean and drive.

2) If you are afraid to drive in the snow, then don't. Just stay home. -- That means you Mr. Drive 10 miles an hour and hit your brakes every 20 feet.-- You're actually more of a hazard than those that fit under category #1.

pierced_daisy 12 years, 3 months ago

its about darn time the LJWORLD or someone posted an article on how to drive in the snow.

I seem to remember every year how to do it, yet no one else seems to remember how to drive in the snow.

And to you! Mr honda Accord! in the intersection of Iowa and 33rd!! I saw you going near 40mph and skid out! You nearly hit me!

classclown 12 years, 3 months ago

I noticed the article didn't say anything about chains or cables. Or about adding weight over truck wheels or in the truck of rear wheel drive cars to help with traction.

dex 12 years, 3 months ago

simple and practical: keep 3-4 seconds between you and the car in front or slow enough to avoid running red lights, whichever is slower.

gccs14r 12 years, 3 months ago

For those of you with rear-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, and no ABS, pop it into neutral when stopping to cut power to the drive wheels. Otherwise the fronts will lock and the rears will push you whichever way the front end slides.

italianprincess 12 years, 3 months ago

Don't drink, drive and play chicken with other cars like the drunk who hit my son's car this morning.

trinity 12 years, 3 months ago

ciggies&beer, you know what is comical about your post? the fact that whenever you do renew your license, you get the booklet in the mail along with your test, and any simpleton can look up the answers and put 'em on the test sheet which is then given to the license examiner. just because a person is able to outwit the state license test by finding the weirdly reworded test questions in the booklet does not a good driver make, dude.

blakus 12 years, 3 months ago

As a brother of a delivery driver, i'd like to say stay home for this lovely sunday... (and order something in!)

Curtis Lange 12 years, 3 months ago

They forgot one of the most important practices during inclement weather, be it rain or snow: Use your headlights! Not your parking lights, but your headlights.

Driving with just your parking lights on is illegal too. I want to slap every person I see doing this. It has no added benefit to other motorist and is just plain stupid.

kansasfire911 12 years, 3 months ago

Also please be careful of emergancy crews. I was working an accident at I-35 and 67th yesterday when I heard a Prarie Village ladder truck come on the radio and say they just got hit by someone on I-35 just north of us. Lukily no firefighters were hurt. Just think that same guy drove by our accident a couple of minutes before. People need to move away of the accident and emergency crews I had people zipping by me the entire time. Please be aware and careful, I would like to go home to my kids in the morning.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 3 months ago

Here's one:

Don't assume that your $35K SUV won't slide on ice. Regardless of what the TV ads say, it will. The tires on your SUV are made of the same rubber that are on my wife's Cavalier.

italianprincess 12 years, 3 months ago

Sure you can Topeka,

My son had just dropped off his date from the senior winter formal and was on his way to a friends house to stay the night. He was going west on Peterson when he saw headlights coming straight at him in his lane. Peterson runs east and west behind housing tracks. To avoid getting hit he moved over into the other lane and the other guy then moved into that lane. My son then moved back into his own lane where he was in the first place and the guy moved back over there this time losing control of his car and hitting my son's car.

After this guy ( found to be drunk ) hit my son's car he got out of the car and ran away leaving his passenger behind. His passenger I believe is only 16 and was scared out of his mind. They did locate the driver and arrested him. He goes before the courts tomorrow at 3 pm.

My son's car has major damage to it which is a drag for him. He took alot of pride in all the work he put into it. The insurance company will come out in a couple days to check it out and we will see whats going on with it.

Alison Roberts 12 years, 3 months ago

An article shouldnt have to be put in the paper to tell people how to drive. Its really sad when people cant have consideration for other drivers in bad weather. Just because I dont drive a huge SUV doesnt give someone who does the right to get pissed at me for driving cautiously.

For example:

people who lay on their horn when my car wont instantly scoot through an icy intersection

people who are on my tail while driving on icy/slushy/snowy streets.

people in SUV's in general are VERY inconsiderate of people who are in smaller, less equipt cars.

I just think that if you have lived in KS for a few years, you ought to know a thing or two about driving in inclement weather. And if you dont... just stay off the road. I hvae lived in kansas my entire life and am very comfortable with driving in snowy/icy weather because I know my car and I know how to drive in it from the years past. If you dont know how your car will handle the conditions, or if youre just going to be inconsiderate, do the rest of us a favor and just stay off the road.

corporate_sleaze 12 years, 3 months ago

To vavs0929,


Your little pathetic, rubber-band cars shouldn't be on the road. As you admit you have a "less equipt car", your car probably isn't the only thing about you that's "less equipted".

Why don't you do a favor for the "greater than 50% of drivers on the road" that drive SUVs and stay off the road, or better yet take the "T". That way you can sit next to the other unsuccessful, bleeding heart liberal, tree hugging, whacko, cry babies.

Ragingbear 12 years, 3 months ago

Your the one who is pathetic corperate. Your gas guzzling behemoth that cost more than some houses is what is making things more expensive for the rest of us. And just because you have a bigger vehicle does not mean that you own the road. Everybody on that road pays taxes, and buys plates, and have proven themselves worthy of being on the road.

And do you know what I do when somebody insist on laying on their horn behind me? Expect to sit through another light cycle.

bugmenot 12 years, 3 months ago

Corporate your an idiot. May I ask, are you even of legal age to drive???

Alison Roberts 12 years, 3 months ago

umm just because i dont drive a gas guzzler SUV it means Im unsuccessful and a bleeding heart liberal? I didnt think politics had a damn thing to do with the car I drove--or how I drive it.

You sound just a tad uneducated. I never said that MY car was ill-equipt, I said drivers of SUV's need to be more considerate of people who do not drive huge cars with 4 wheel drive that are a little more capable in the snow/ice. I was merely pointing out that I should not be honked at bc I am being cautious.

Before you berate me, could you read my posts? I am a perfectly capable driver in this sort of weather. Perhaps you could pull your head out of your A$$ and read a little more carefully.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 3 months ago

Italianprincess: please keep us updated on your son's case! hope he knows we're all pullin' for him!

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