Winter driving calls for precautions

The winter driving season is here, and northwest Ohio winters can produce various road conditions all in one week. Driving in ice and snow conditions can be very challenging. Here are some tips from AAA to arrive at your destination safely.

• Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.

• Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

• Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

• Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

• Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.

• Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

Additionally, Ohio law requires headlights to be on at any time when the windshield wipers of the vehicle are in use. If your vehicle has automatic headlights, make sure they are on; they may not come on during the daylight hours.

Last winter, there were 9,073 crashes on snow, ice or slush-covered roads in Ohio. “It is important that drivers plan ahead, use extra caution and slow down during winter weather,” said Rachel Kinsman, Fulton County Safe Communities Coordinator. “Remaining calm and taking your time can help keep you and your passengers safe.”

For more information regarding Fulton County Safe Communities, call 419-337-0915.