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Winter Driving Can Be Dangerous

Police Chief Norman Crepeau Jr. offers tips to maneuvering on the snow-covered roads.

Although the weather has been warmer lately, winter is still upon us and changes for the worse can happen at any time. Last week, we covered some general precautions for driving during the winter season. This week, the Grafton Police Department would once again like to provide some suggestions for driving on snow-covered roads. These tips and more can be found at www.aaaexchange.com

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning—nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of 3 to 4 seconds should be increased to 8 to 10 seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don't stop if you can avoid it. There's a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don't stop going up a hill. There's nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don't tempt fate: If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

SPECIAL NOTE: Please remember to keep your parked vehicles off the roads during snowstorms. Vehicles parked on the road hamper plowing operations and make it difficult for highway crews to properly clear the road of snow and ice.  Vehicles left on the road during these times may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Rd., Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com. Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.

Submitted by Normand A. Crepeau Jr., Chief of Police

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