Prepare now for winter’s dangers

Don’t let recent warm weather fool you. Winter officially began last week and winter weather is ahead.

Drivers didn’t have to worry too much last year about snow and ice but it is only a matter of time before residents will face ice and snow covered roads.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported crashes on snow, ice and slush was down last winter.

The patrol reported driving too fast for road conditions accounted for 68 percent of the accidents last winter.

The patrol is urging motorists to allow extra time to get to their destination, maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the traffic ahead, pay close attention to bridges and overpasses — as they are often the first to freeze over — and to drive slowly, as everything including accelerating, turning and braking, take longer on snow-covered roadways.

Everyone dreads waking up on a workday to a fresh snowfall.

But taking some simple precautions can increase chances of safely getting to your destination.

Clear away snow from your car’s windows, and from the entire vehicle. Wait for your car to warm up and melt ice on the windows. Being able to see is a prime need for driving safely. That’s also why drivers should clear snow from their vehicle. Snow blowing off a moving car can blind other drivers.

Make sure your windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled with fluid that doesn’t easily freeze.

Be sure you know where your snow brush and ice scraper are. Buy new ones if the old ones are worn out.

Leave earlier for work so you don’t feel rushed and drive too fast.

If your destination is some distance away, keep a winter-driving kit in your vehicle.

The highway patrol recommends the kit should include a cell phone with car charger; road flares or reflectors; help or call police signs; first-aid kit; flashlight; blanket or sleeping bag; a small shovel; bottled water and energy foods; candles and matches; and tow strap or chain.

Many states have phone numbers or websites for up-to-date road conditions. Check ahead to see what you may be facing and change plans accordingly. Also, keep an eye on weather forecasts for that area.

Being prepared is the best way to deal with winter driving. Be patient this winter, and take your time when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads.