Wintry roads here to stay

It happens every year. Winter weather arrives, and motorists who should know better try to drive as if it’s summer.

Winter storms test winter driving skills of all motorists – even those in the Upper Peninsula, where snow is away of life.

The snowfall this week serves as a warning for area drivers. Wintery weather, which had avoided the Dickinson County area thus far, has arrived and is here to stay.

Look folks, this is winter and we’re in the Upper Peninsula. Expect snow, drifting snow, blowing snow, bitter wind chills, snow showers, and possibly some freezing rain tossed in for good measure.

In other words, drive as though your life depended on it.

Traffic safety experts say there are ways to improve our chances of survival on the road.

– Clear snow and ice from vehicle. to improve visibility, remove all snow and ice from the hood, roof, trunk, turn signals, tail lights and headlights.

– Go slow in the snow. Posted speed limits are set for ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down when visibility and road conditions are impaired.

– Don’t brake hard. On ice and snow, use “threshold” or “squeeze” braking when driving a vehicle without anti-lock brakes. Apply the brakes firmly to a point just short of lock-up, then ease off the brake pedal slightly. For vehicles with anti-lock brakes, continuous, firm braking is recommended.

– Anticipate danger. Be ready for ice on bridges, hidden lane markings, stalled cars and poor visibility. Adjust your speed, increase following distance between vehicles.

– Put the lid on skids. Ease off the accelerator and don’t lock up the brakes. Carefully steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go and straighten the wheel as soon as the car beings to go in the desired direction.

Experts also urge motorists to prepare their vehicles for the winter season, and know how to react if stranded or lost on the road.

Motorists should always carry an emergency kit in the vehicle, containing a flashlight, flares or reflective triangle, distress sign, telephone change or cell phone, first aid supplies and some basic tools.

Motorist should also monitor dashboard gauges and warning lights. If differences in handling are noticed, have the car checked.

If the vehicle become disabled:

– Activate hazard warning lights immediately and pull off the road of the far right shoulder, well off traveled lanes.

– Warn on-coming traffic by setting flares or reflective triangles behind the vehicle, especially at night.

– If it’s necessary to stop on a center median, pull off the road as far as possible.

If you decide to stay with your vehicle, close the windows and lock the doors. If someone approaches offering assistance, talk through a closed window and ask the “good samaritan” to call for help.

If it is necessary to jump-start a dead battery, the following general procedure works for most vehicles. However, motorists should always consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions:

– Position the cars close enough for jumper cables to be connected, but not touching. The transmission on both vehicles should be in park, or neutral for a manual transmission. The parking brake should be on and the ignition and accessories off.

– Connect one end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the good batters. Attach the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the bad battery.

– Connect one end of the negative cable to the negative terminal of the good batter. Attach the other end of the negative cable to a god ground like a bolt on the engine or other unpainted, metallic surface on the car with the dead battery. Do not connect the negative cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.

– Start the engine on the car providing the jump. When attempting to start the disabled vehicle, don’t crank the starter for more than 20 seconds. If it doesn’t start in 20 seconds, wait two minutes before trying again.

– When the disabled car is running, disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order from which they were connected.

Additionally, all motorists should commit themselves to becoming courteous drivers.

Not only does this reduce the chances of accidents, it reduces traffic stress.

Remember to:

– Be attentive. Many people are killed in traffic accidents because of inattentiveness and distractions.

– Do not tailgate. Many drivers do not realize they are tailgating. Keep a car length between you and the car in front of you for every 10 miles of speed you are driving.

– Respect the speed limit. Do not flash your lights at other drivers who are traveling at the posted speed.

– Do not let your emotions interfere with your driving. Many times, aggressive drivers do not realize they are taking their feelings out on other drivers.

– Never drink and drive.

– Always wear your seat belt.

– Avoid conflict. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and get out of the way.