PECATONICA, Ill. — As the winter driving season approaches, Illinois State Police are advising motorists to take the necessary precautions before getting behind the wheel. A safe vehicle is equally important to safe driving while on the road.
Extreme weather can have a devastating impact on driving conditions, especially when ice and snow are involved. Freezing rain, icy roads and white-out snow conditions can result in roads hazardous for drivers of all ages. Illinois State Police officials urge motorists to drive with caution, and to allow extra travel time to get to final destinations.
Illinois State Police District 16 Commander, Lt. Martin Zamudio, explained: “Every year, Illinois motorists face weather conditions that have a significant impact on transportation and safety. Whether it’s a semi-truck or a passenger vehicle, every safety precaution should be taken to ensure that crashes are avoided. Reducing your speed, regardless of if your vehicle has four-wheel drive capabilities or not, allowing for extra travel time, increasing distances between vehicles, and avoiding unnecessary lane changes are just a few simple precautions drivers can take to make their travels safer.”
Zamudio also stressed that unless medical attention is required, when crashes occur and conditions are extreme, exchanging insurance and driver information is advised to keep motorists safe and the roads clear. Motorists can file crash reports at the nearest Illinois State Police headquarters within seven business days.
District 16 Safety Education Officer, Trooper Brent Massingill, provided the following safety tips drivers should keep in mind during the winter months:
• Plan ahead and check the forecast — Determine if the trip is truly necessary during inclement weather.
• Don’t crowd the plow — Remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
• Watch out for black ice — Roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas — all are prone to black ice.
• Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
• Dress warmly for the weather — Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
• Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
• Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
• Always carry a charged cell phone.
• Always wear a safety belt.
Motorists can check on interstate road conditions by contacting the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) at 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or on the Internet at www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011, issue