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Winter driving

How to stay safe this snowy season

Emergency crews look on as a GMC pickup truck is towed out of the ditch at the intersection of Brickyard Road and U.S. 41 in Marquette Township on Tuesday following a two-vehicle crash. Two people were injured. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving, especially in winter weather. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — Yoopers are no strangers to snow, but driving in the ever-changing winter weather can pose challenges for even the most seasoned winter driver.

Trooper Stacey Rasanen with the Michigan State Police Negaunee Post said there are a few things to keep in mind before heading out.

≤ Allowing for extra driving time is important “because you need to slow down and not follow too close, because the people following too close are the ones running into people, because you need more braking time,” Rasanen said.

It can take up to 10 times longer to stop on snowy or icy roads, she said. Be sure to look ahead and begin to stop in advance of an intersection.

≤ Slow down when driving through a roundabout and create more space between you and the driver ahead of you.

“I think it catches people off guard because they are still driving for summer conditions and not slowing down,” she said.

Even if a road doesn’t appear icy, black ice could be present and is deadly.

“Roads are most slippery when the thermometer hovers around freezing,” she added.

≤ Plan your route ahead of time, especially if you aren’t comfortable driving in snowy conditions.

Rasanen recommends checking your local weather radar and Mi Drive on the Michigan.gov website, which lets drivers know about road construction, traffic and more. Drivers can also view live camera footage of a specific road to see current conditions.

≤ Carry your phone and charger with you in case of emergency. If in an area without cell service, have water, a blanket and food that doesn’t spoil, such as granola bars in your car in case you have to wait for help.

≤ Keep a full tank of gas.

≤ Completely clear snow from your car before driving. “Make sure you take the time to clean off the top of your vehicle because all that snow on top of the vehicle will come down on your windshield making it impossible to see,” she said.

Not clearing off your car can be dangerous and considered careless driving, which is a ticketable offense.

≤ Only drive in conditions within your ability. “If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t be out on the roads,” Rasanen said.

≤ Slow down to reduce chances of skidding and sliding, but if you do find yourself sliding, hold down the brake so your vehicle’s traction control can kick in. Look in the direction you want your vehicle to go and remain calm.

≤ Make sure to wear your seatbelt regardless of seating position.

≤ Make sure your child’s car seat or booster seat is installed correctly, so they are restrained appropriately. Drivers can make an appointment with the Michigan State Police Negaunee Township post or Marquette City Fire Department to have their car seats checked.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.