Winter driving safety — don’t

Published 10:32 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

Virginia prepared for a blast of winter weather this weekend, but Suffolk wasn’t prepared to see nearly the amount of precipitation as other areas of the state.

Rain, snow and sleet were all expected to fall in Suffolk from Saturday morning to Sunday night. There’s even a slight chance of rain and snow showers before noon on Monday, according to the ever-faithful National Weather Service in Wakefield, who are still working to forecast this event for us, even though they’re not getting paid.

Suffolk crews were out pre-treating its roads Thursday and Friday to minimize any buildup of snow or ice that might occur, despite the relatively better forecast for Suffolk. However, there are still some tips that can help keep you safe while driving in winter weather.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation was urging motorists not to drive during winter weather.

“No matter the forecast, road travel is always hazardous during winter weather,” VDOT stated in a press release Friday. “Motorists are advised to only travel in emergency situations.”

Not only is driving during winter weather unsafe but also it hinders plowing operations, VDOT says.

Of course, emergencies happen, and there will always be motorists who believe their situation is an emergency when it really isn’t. So for those who are driving, they should do the following, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management:

  • Allow extra time, drive at a low speed and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Slow down and give snowplows the right of way.
  • As always, avoid distractions such as your phone, food or the radio. Focus strictly on your role as a driver. Multi-tasking while driving puts yourself and others at risk. Be alert to changing road conditions.
  • As always, buckle up. If you lose control on a slick roadway and spin out, the seatbelt holds you in place and may save your life.
  • Call 911 only for emergencies and not for road conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and in safe driving condition, with an emergency kit including jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, flashlight and batteries, ice scraper, phone charger and battery-powered radio.

While you’re at home, you should make sure you have adequate food and water and a radio there as well. Check on your neighbors, family and friends and offer any help they may need that you can, and we’ll all weather this storm just fine.