Here is another in our series of articles about things going on around Rochester. Enjoy!
Seems like everyone knows it’s Spring — except the weather. Late winter storms have pounded the Midwest and Northeast, creating dangerous conditions for people simply going to the mailbox, let alone traveling on busy roadways. Ohio authorities are blaming three turnpike traffic deaths directly on winter storm Vulcan, which dropped over seven inches of snow in 41-mile-an-hour gusts, providing “near whiteout” conditions.
If the groundhog can be believed, Spring really is just around the corner. But on the off-chance that an oversized rodent doesn’t actually have any formal meteorological training, here are a few winter driving tips to keep you safe during any snowy April showers — and maybe throughout the rest of the year as well.
Drive With Your Lights On. Whether or not you can see in snowy traffic is only half of the equation when it comes to safety — your ability to be seen is also crucial. Get in the habit of turning on your lights every time you get in the car (think “key, lights, seatbelt”). Automatic daytime running lights are great, but they don’t turn your taillights on. (Don’t forget to turn your lights off when you leave the car. Needing a jumpstart on a wintery day can be a major drag.) If you’re scraping snow and ice off your windows, don’t forget to clear your headlights and taillights as well.
Signal Everything. Signaling your intentions while driving is important on the clearest, sunniest day you can imagine — it becomes a billion times more important when visibility is reduced, as in winter storms. Use your signal before you turn, before you change lanes, before you pull into traffic, before you merge onto a freeway (notice the use of the word “before”: waiting to use your signal until you’re actually turning or merging does no good whatsoever). Never assume you can see every single person who might need to know which way you’re going — use your signal as though there’s always someone watching.
A Clear Field of View. Your safety depends on your ability to react to what’s happening around you. If you can’t see it, you can’t react to it. Keep your windshield free of stickers or stick-ons (such as GPS devices or smartphone mounts), and be sure your windshields are as clean as you can make them. As winter approaches (and sometimes never leaves), make sure your wipers are functioning properly. If they get clogged with snow as you drive, don’t try to reach out and “snap” the snow off while driving: pull off the road and take care of it somewhere safe.
Gear Up for Glare. Sun glare can be a major distraction while driving, making the lines of the road difficult to see or even making you reluctant to look in certain directions. A good-quality pair of polarized lenses can help reduce road glare and chrome reflections. For winter, make sure your lenses wrap around the sides and are tall enough so that no glare hits your eyes from above or below — in winter, harmful light is reflecting from all directions at once, not just from the sun.
Drive With Your Brain. Common sense is the best defense you have on a dangerous roadway. If it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing, foggy, icy, overly sunny, etc… just slow down. The faster you go, the less time you have to react to danger. And when the driving conditions are in any way dangerous, you need all the time you can get.