Troopers offer winter driving tips

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Already this year, there have been 47 traffic fatalities reported on Virginia’s roadways, compared to 51 during January 2003; plus, there’s a forecast for flurries today, and Virginia may still face possible ice and snow in February.

Sergeant D. Sammy Carr, a Virginia state trooper, said Thursday that the biggest hazard of winter driving is slippery roads caused by ice, slushy snow or rain, and he and other troopers caution motorists to slow down while driving in such conditions.

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&uot;A highway speed of 55 or 65 may be safe in dry weather but an invitation for trouble in snow and ice,&uot; said Carr.

Another trooper, Colonel W. Steve Flaherty, said drivers should also be alert to watch for other vehicles.

&uot;Many motorists are involved in crashes during this time of the year by assuming that ice has not formed on the road surfaces,&uot; said Flaherty. &uot;Bridges and overpasses can be especially hazardous in the winter months and motorists should adjust speeds, keep their eyes on the road and always wear their safety belts.&uot;

Carr added that in January and February 2003, the Virginia State Police investigated 7,354 crashes and issued 13,725 summonses for reckless driving. The officers also offered several tips for those inevitable times when driving in wintry conditions is absolutely necessary.

The sergeant said drivers should anticipate bad driving conditions and always be alert while driving, continuously scanning the road for potential dangers. Reduce driving speed and allow more time to get to your destination. Going slower is the key to safe driving on slippery, icy, snow covered roads, said Carr.

Increase driving distances between your vehicle and other vehicles, allowing some space between vehicles to move in the event that another vehicle begins to slide in your direction.

He suggested removing ice, snow, dirt and grime from vehicle windows, headlights, parking lights, taillights, back-up lights, and turn signal lights.

Remember to wear seat belts and use child safety seats.

&uot;Remember, a skid can quickly result in a complete loss of control of your vehicle, and even lead to a potential injury-causing crash,&uot; said Carr. &uot;Wearing a safety belt is the best way to reduce the risk of a serious injury or death as a result of a motor vehicle crash.&uot;