Lessons To Learn From Season's First Winter Storm

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The first winter storm of 2007-2008 arrived much as forecasters predicted. It was strong and fast and from the lack of serious accidents in the area it seems warnings were heeded and common sense prevailed.

We thank the men and women serving in our public safety and road departments for weathering the storm and responding to the accidents and incidents related to the bad weather.

If we are fortunate, the Rim Country will see many more good storms in the coming weeks to help minimize the drought conditions we have suffered through for the last several years.

In the event of winter storms, the best defense for staying safe is staying off the roads. If you must travel, do so with caution and employ these suggestions provided by the federal government.

Before starting on your trip, check weather and road conditions by calling 511 or 1-888-411-ROAD for current information.

Keep your gas tank and windshield washer fluid reservoir full.

Slow down.

Allow additional stopping distance on any road that is not dry.

"Counter steer" to regain control in a skid. Steer the car in the same direction that the back end of the car is going.

Check the Web site of the National Weather Service if you are planning on driving a long distance or in another part of the country. It's always good to know what weather to expect.

Winterize your car before winter arrives by checking the following:

  • Antifreeze -- Keep engine coolant at the proper levels, as this protects against freezing and corrosion. Change the coolant as recommended by the car's manufacturer.
  • Battery -- Test to make sure it is in good working condition to provide ample power for cold winter starts.
  • Brakes -- Worn brakes require longer stopping distances and can pull the car to one side when stopping. A mechanic can check your brakes and make necessary repairs.
  • Emergency Supplies -- At a minimum, your car should be equipped with a flashlight, blanket, sand or salt and a snow/ice scraper.
  • Exhaust System -- Fumes from a leaky exhaust system can quickly become fatal.
  • Remember, never idle the motor in your garage.
  • Heater and Defroster -- In proper working condition, these will keep passengers comfortable and the windshield free of ice and condensation.
  • Oil -- Change your oil using a winter-grade oil for easier starting.
  • Tires -- Worn tires lose their grip on slippery roads. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread. All-weather tires or snow tires are recommended for most areas.
  • Wipers and Windshield Fluid -- Ensure good visibility by replacing worn wiper blades or installing winter blades. Keep washer reservoir filled with specially formulated antifreeze solution for windshields.

Bridges and overpasses freeze before road surfaces. Freezing air circulating above and below the bridge causes ice to form more rapidly than on a surface that has freezing air above and warmer ground below.

Allow additional stopping distance on any road that is not dry by doubling the "Four-Second Rule." This rule teaches new drivers safe driving distances -- when the rear bumper of the car ahead passes any designated spot, make sure you reach the same spot in four seconds or more. Doubling or even tripling this safety measure is especially wise during winter driving, but can be practiced throughout the year.

Visibility is an important factor for safe driving during a winter storm. Keep your lights on and clear the windshield of accumulations of ice and snow if necessary.

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