Whether you love it or can barely tolerate it, winter is in full swing in Wisconsin. While we might get the occasional warm day, January and February days are often filled with snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures. And whether you are a seasoned winter weather driver or this is your first Wisconsin winter, we can all benefit from brushing up on some important winter safety tips before heading out on the roads:
1. Check road conditions before leaving the house.
Even seemingly clear days can give way to icy roads that cause spinouts or other hazards. Black ice can be extremely dangerous and while it is most prevalent overnight, it can still linger in the morning hours. Checking road conditions before you leave the house can help prepare you for the drive to come.
2. Give yourself plenty of time.
Similarly, a good habit to get into during the winter months is giving yourself a few extra minutes to arrive at your destination. Rushing in even the best conditions can lead to collisions but rushing through wintry weather conditions can be especially dangerous.
3. Assess your speed.
When you’re on the road, pay close attention to your speed. While you may be driving the posted speed limit, this may be far too fast during snowy or freezing weather. Drive at the speed that is appropriate given the current road conditions.
4. Leave extra space between your vehicle and other vehicles.
Be sure to leave more space than you normally would between your vehicle and other vehicles, including snowplows, on the road. Your vehicle’s reaction time to stop or slow down may be lengthened on slippery roads, so leaving extra space can help ensure you can safely come to a stop when necessary. Drivers should also avoid cruise control in wintry conditions.
5. Exercise extra caution on bridges and overpasses.
Certain stretches of road are prone to even more slippery surfaces, including bridges and overpasses. According to the National Weather Service of Milwaukee, this is due to cold air both above and below these structures, as opposed to just above. Bridges and overpasses can be some of the first to become slippery. Even if roads seem relatively normal, slowing down and proceeding with caution while on these stretches of road can be wise.
Winter is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads in Wisconsin. Keeping the above steps in mind, as well as driving defensively, can help to keep you and your passengers safe.