Drive safe this winter

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By: John Griffee

Staff Columnist

Those that call Michiana home are intimately familiar with the brutality of winter. Windows ice over, thermometers drop inconceivably low and the weather forecasts keep mentioning the unholy phrase, “Polar Vortex.” As winter storms continue to hit the area, it is important to understand how to stay safe during this turbulent time. 

There are many factors that residents of northern Indiana come face-to-face with during the winter. Roads that look clear can become a slip-and-slide due to black ice and sudden flurries of snow can inhibit vision and cause plenty of car accidents this time of year. 

Perhaps the most important factor to pay attention to during winter is the reliability of our motor vehicles. Testing the battery of your vehicle and properly warming the car up before going anywhere cannot be forgotten. In the incident where someone becomes stranded, having the ability to keep a car heated and running can be the difference in preventing any harm due to the elements. 

If your vehicle is parked outdoors, check your tire pressure to make sure that your tires are reliable and aren’t going flat. The dipping temperatures can inhibit the performance of car batteries and tires. 

Preparing for travel during winter can seem like a hassle, but practicing precaution and preparing pays off in the chance of an accident occurring. Things to consider packing in a car for backup include cat litter, road salt, hand warmers, shovels, boots, and tire-chains. While main roads are plowed and monitored meticulously, many side roads do not receive the same treatment. Likewise, traveling at night does not afford the same amount of visibility for the road conditions. 

Traveling during the daytime is highly recommended as opposed to traveling at night, and if there is the opportunity to wait out a storm before traveling, better safe than sorry. The weather this time of year is highly unpredictable, especially with the fluctuating temperatures. 

Pay attention to the forecasts put out by local weather stations and consider how they might influence the road conditions. A temperature rise can begin to melt snow before plummeting quickly and then icing over the roads again. Unless the roads are known to be completely clear, stay below the typical speed limit and stop early ahead of intersections and traffic lights. 

Winter is the most dangerous time of the year for driving conditions as we see spikes in the number of motor vehicle accidents. If you plan to drive anywhere, practice precaution and take the time necessary to fully prepare for the conditions outside. There is no such thing as “too safe” when winter rolls around in Michiana. 

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