SALEM, New Hampshire — With the winter season fully underway, Deputy Chief Joel Dolan and the Salem Police Department wish to share winter driving and general cold weather safety tips with residents.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 24% of motor vehicle crashes related to weather conditions take place on snowy, slushy or icy roads and more than 1,300 people are killed in such crashes each year.
“Between the cold, snow and ice, the winter poses a lot of safety concerns, but driving in particular becomes much more dangerous this time of year,” Deputy Chief Dolan said. “We’re urging residents to take care on the roads this season, drive slow, allow other drivers plenty of space and never slam on your brakes if you’re driving in inclement weather.”
The Salem Police Department offers the following winter driving tips from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation:
- Always clear your vehicle of snow and ice, and make sure your windows, lights and turn signals are visible.
- Buckle up.
- Adjust your schedule to allow you extra time to reach your destination, as drives often take longer in inclement weather.
- Drive slowly in wet, snowy and icy conditions, especially when driving near intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady spots. These areas often can harbor black ice. Those with four wheel drive are also reminded that they too need to drive more slowly in winter weather.
- Remain vigilant and alert when visibility is poor, and/or conditions are changing or unpredictable.
- Maintain more space than usual while driving between yourself and other motorists, as slowing down often takes longer on snowy, slushy and icy roads.
- Do not cut off other drivers– during the winter, this is particularly dangerous as it will likely take longer for them to slow down. Drivers may also be unable to accelerate as quickly as is possible on dry roads.
- Be wary of using cruise control. If your vehicle is accelerating, it needs to be you who is pressing the gas. Otherwise, your vehicle may accelerate on cruise control in an area of the road which is dangerously snowy or icy.
- If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump your brake pedal to slow down and come to a stop without skidding. Those with anti-lock brakes can press the pedal down firmly and hold it. Take care to allow yourself extra room to stop either way.
- Accelerate gradually when driving on snow and merge into traffic slowly, as sudden movements may cause your vehicle to skid or slide.
- Never slam on the brakes in snowy and icy conditions.
- Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally would, as this will allow you to react more quickly to any upcoming problems on the road.
- Do not drive while texting, eating, or otherwise distracted.
- Do not crowd, tailgate or stop too closely behind a snowplow. Instead, allow them plenty of space to operate on the road. The road behind a snowplow is going to be safer to drive on, and it is recommended motorists either drive behind a snow plow on the road or use significant caution while passing.
- Snow clouds on the road may be concealing a snow plow. Never drive into a snow cloud.
The Salem Police Department also offers the following general winter safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- When going outside, wear weather appropriate attire such as a tightly woven, wind resistant coat, light and warm layers, mittens, hats, scarves and waterproof boots.
- Put cat litter or sand on icy patches.
- Take your time while performing outside chores, like shoveling, which can be physically demanding and stressful on the body.
- When going skiing, hiking, walking or any other type of outdoor recreation, bring a friend and an emergency kit.
- Bring a cell phone with you when going outdoors.
- Be wary of traveling in severe weather, and if travel is mandatory, tell a friend or family member what time you expect to arrive at your destination and your route of travel.
- Check in on friends and family who may be at risk or need help, including those who are ill and/or elderly.
For more winter safety tips, click here.