Highway Patrol offers winter safe-driving tipsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Winter weather is lurking around the corner and bringing with it slippery, snowy and sometimes treacherous road conditions that make driving difficult or even dangerous.
Excessive speed is the leading cause of fatal accidents in Ohio. More than half the people killed in motor vehicle crashes are not wearing their seat belts, and about 25 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“Your speed should be geared to the conditions of the roadway,” said Sgt. Brian Foltz of the Toledo post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, located on Airport Highway. “You should reduce speed in unfavorable conditions like snow and ice. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination safely.”
“Drive with your headlights on in inclement weather as it’s important for you to see and be seen,” Foltz added.
Not only does state law require seat belt usage, statistics show usage helps decrease serious injuries and fatalities in vehicle accidents, Foltz said.
If you are involved in a crash on a highway or busy street, you are advised to move the vehicle off the roadway if possible to avoid causing additional accidents, Foltz said.
Drivers involved in any accident should call 911, a local law enforcement agency or 1-877-7-PATROL to report the incident and request appropriate help. Drivers can also report stranded motorists at that number.
Upon approaching a stationary public safety, emergency or road service vehicle with flashing lights, drivers should proceed with caution, slowing to a safe speed for road, weather and traffic conditions.
If driving on a road with two or more lanes going in the same direction, drivers should change lanes away from the lane closest to the safety or emergency vehicles.
“The safety of the motoring public is our primary concern at an accident or breakdown,” Foltz said. “It is not recommended for citizens to direct traffic if they don’t have proper equipment or training.”
Foltz said there have been two fatalities this year when pedestrians were struck at accidents. One emergency worker was struck and killed while directing traffic at a local accident scene recently.
“It all boils down to use common sense to get to your destination safely,” Foltz said.
It’s also important to prepare for winter driving by making sure your vehicle is properly equipped and maintained. Check headlights and windshield wipers to make sure they are working, all fluids levels, especially antifreeze, and brakes and tires for wear, Foltz recommended.
Winterize the vehicle and follow the suggested manufacturer maintenance schedule. Make sure the transmission is working properly, and lubricate the door and trunk locks to prevent freezing.
Wipers, tires, brakes and adequate washer fluid are common things inspectors look for when inspecting vehicles, said Mike Rodriguez, a retired patrolman who now inspects vehicles for the Highway Patrol.
Drivers can have their vehicles inspected for safety at any Ohio State Highway Patrol post.
“In snow or winter weather, drivers should double their stopping distance,” Rodriguez said.
Keep a winter car kit in your vehicle in case you become stranded during a storm. The winter kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, flares or roadway reflectors, jumper cables, small shovel, ice scraper, antifreeze, flat tire repair, windshield washer fluid, nonperishable food, blanket, candle, matches and first aid kit.
The State Highway Patrol is constantly looking for stranded motorists.
“We’re here to help when you need it,” said Foltz, who has served with the Highway Patrol for 13 years.