GRAFTON—The area saw its first snowfall on Friday, which lead to treacherous road conditions for drivers to navigate.
While the best idea is to just stay home during winter storms, sometimes that’s not possible.
As a way to help West Virginian’s better prepare for the upcoming winter months and whatever Mother Nature might have up her sleeve this season, residents are reminded of some winter driving tips.
According to officials, one of the best ways to prepare for the winter ahead is by keeping an eye on the weather forecast and planning your trip accordingly.
However, because the weather can be somewhat unpredictable, putting together a basic emergency kit to keep in your vehicle in case of an emergency that leaves you stranded is a great idea.
The kit should contain essentials such as flashlights, jumper cables, flares or reflective triangles, a blanket, a cell phone charger and cat litter or sand that will aide in providing traction on slick roads.
For those taking longer car trips, packing food and water, along with any medications they may need is also a great idea.
More advice on what to include in an emergency kit for your family can be found at https://www.ready.gov/car.
There are also steps that motorists can take to help ensure that their vehicles are better equipped for winter weather driving.
Cold weather is hard on your vehicle’s battery, so AAA urges motorists to have their battery checked by a professional. A survey performed by the organization found that two-thirds of American drivers have never had their car battery proactively tested, but they note that a strong battery will get drivers through the winter months.
Ready.gov also suggests drivers have a mechanic check their vehicles at the start of the winter season. The car specialist should check for antifreeze levels, oil levels, for properly working lights and hazard flashers, adequate brakes and that the vehicle’s thermostat is functioning properly.
Winter brings about all kinds of precipitation, which can reduce visibility. So the mechanic should also make sure the heater and defroster is in proper working condition.
Replacing worn windshield-wiper blades can also help increase visibility, as well as making sure your vehicle has plenty of cold-weather windshield washer solvent.
Tires are where the rubber meets the road, literally. Making sure your tires are properly inflated can go a long way in the winter to ensure your vehicle has the best grip on the roadway as possible.
Drivers will also want to make sure that their tires are not too worn and have a tread depth of at least 4/32 inch. Worn tires will make it harder to stop in slippery conditions.
Once drivers have safeguarded their vehicle against winter’s weather, there are some precautions that can be taken to help increase safety on the roadways.
“When driving, motorists need to increase the space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them,” Taylor County Office Of Emergency Management Director Bobby Beltner shared. “Tailgating is never a smart option, but in the winter months when roads may be slippery, it makes matters even worse.”
Being aware of potential icy spots along your route is also a good idea.
“Most people travel the same path each day. Learn areas where water might collect and turn to ice with lower temperatures,” Beltner noted. “Keep in mind, there are always places where melting snow can run across the roadway, and should it refreeze, it could become a potential issue.”
Beltner voiced that one of the most important things a motorist can do to help prevent an accident is slow down.
“Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, accelerating, stopping, and turning,” Beltner revealed. “Give yourself time to maneuver by simply slowing down.”
Should a wreck occur on snow or icy roads, Beltner urges drivers to stay inside their vehicle.
“The safest place you can be is inside your car, because other drivers could easily lose control of their vehicles and if inside, there will be a buffer between their vehicle and you,” he revealed. “Please remember, if it is really bad out, and you don’t have to be on the roads, just stay home.”
Beltner urges drivers to “know before you go” by checking traffic and road closure information at wv511.org before heading out the door.