Winter can be a rough time here in the Appalachian Mountains. While we rarely get “snowed in” for an extended period of time, we do experience hazardous road conditions throughout the winter months. So, what is the best way to deal with hazardous roads?
Most importantly, if you don’t have to travel, stay home. Stock up on essentials including batteries, food, and medicine before a storm. However, if you must go out, keep these tips in mind.
Slow down. While the speed limit on the interstate is typically 70, snow and ice covered roads make it unsafe to travel that fast. You can quickly lose control of your vehicle and find it difficult to stop if traveling at a high rate of speed. Many accidents happen on icy roads because of too high speed. If your car fishtails at 20 mph, you can adjust. However, at 70, even the most experienced drivers cannot compensate.
Watch The Weather. Today’s weather forecasts are typically accurate. So don’t get caught off guard. Know what weather is expected and plan accordingly.
Be On Your Guard When Temperatures Rise. After a deep cold snap, it’s easy to relax when the temperature rises above freezing. But, driving can still be hazardous. Partially melted ice and snow can create slick, treacherous conditions.
Use Your Brakes Sparingly. When driving on ice and snow, don’t use your breaks unless you absolutely have to and then apply them as gently as possible. Slamming on your brakes in snowy conditions can cause your car to spin out of control.
Don’t Stop For Accidents. If you see other accidents on the road, don’t stop unless you are an authorized first responder. You will only tie up traffic and possibly cause another accident. Maneuver around the accident as best you can. Remember, multiple accidents often occur in icy areas. Be on the lookout.
Remember Bridges Freeze First. Even if roads seem clear, bridges and elevated roadways (such as much of the interstate in Charleston, WV) freeze first. Cold air blowing under the roadway in these situations cause the roadway to become slick and icy before the main roadways show any sign of freezing.