Winter can be a beautiful time of the year in central Pennsylvania but, it can also be a hazardous time for drivers. Did you know information from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency shows the leading cause of death during winter storms are transportation related accidents? Winter driving is totally different than any other kind of driving. Preparing your vehicle for the winter months and knowing how to operate your vehicle when encountering snow and ice are the keys to safe winter driving. Even then, anyone can have a mishap on winter roads, including yours truly. Recently, I got up bright and early one Saturday morning and left my house to run a few errands. Overnight a fresh layer of snow had accumulated on the roads and had not yet been attended to by the road crew. As I rounded a turn in my development, my vehicle slid on the icy road and I ended up in a neighbor's yard. I wasn't injured, but unfortunately my vehicle sustained moderate damage along with some of my neighbor's landscaping. So please, consider the following safety tips for winter driving from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation:
Always buckle up.
Never drink and drive.
Stay at home unless travel is absolutely necessary.
Leave earlier to allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
Make sure you have winter tread tires on your vehicle and they are inflated to the proper levels.
Check your wipers and wiper blades.
Check your windshield washer fluid level.
Make sure your defrosters are in good working condition.
Totally clear snow from the body of your vehicle, not just your windshield. It is against the law to cause a traffic hazard such as this.
Turn on headlights and flashers as needed, especially during heavy snow and snow squawls.
Slow down, don't drive too fast or follow vehicles too closely.
Be alert for icy bridges and ramps as they will freeze first.
Avoid distractions such as cell phones, radio, eating or smoking.
Watch for PennDOT information on electronic message boards and listen to weather radio for the latest on updated road conditions.
Home owners, do not shovel or blow snow onto sidewalks or roadways. This creates hazards for unsuspecting motorists.
Parents, remind children not to play in snow banks or sled near roads or highways.
The best tip I know is don't be on the road or highway during a winter storm unless it is an absolute emergency.
In my case, those few errands that Saturday morning really cost me. Landscaping $390, car repair $690, towing $75, writing an article on winter driving safety after all that ... PRICELESS.
Chuck Dicken is the Community Watch Coordinator for Mifflin County Communites That Care.