By Logan Quirk
Stay Safe on the Roads This Winter
While winter in Southern California may not be the blistery winter back East, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare for the demands the season can place on you and your vehicle. Here are a few suggestions now that the rains have arrived.
Preparation is Key
First, as the Boy Scouts like to say, be prepared. Winter places greater demands on your vehicle. If you’re heading out to colder, icier areas, or the snow, ice and cold somehow manage to find you here, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle has been properly maintained: tires (both tread and pressure), battery and electrical system, antifreeze, wipers and defrosters, lights – the works.
Remember if you’ll be driving in cold-weather areas, you’ll want to keep your fuel tank from getting too low, and the same holds true for the windshield washer fluid reservoir. Don’t get onto the road until you’ve cleared your vehicle well of ice or snow. Make sure your car or truck is stocked with supplies you may need if you encounter wintry weather (ice scraper, flares, jumper cables, small shovel, first-aid kit, water and non-perishable snacks, charged cellphone). A good pair of boots and a blanket are also good to have in the trunk, just in case. Proper preparation, especially before longer trips, also means checking the forecast to stay current with conditions on the way to your destination.
Even with a fully checked-out and equipped vehicle, you need to know how to handle wet or icy winter roads, especially when some of the others sharing the roadways with you may come up a little short on that score. Besides being prepared, the other central commandment for staying out of trouble on wintertime roads in to take your time. Slippery roads test driver skills, even though some drivers fail to notice. Leave more space between cars, brake and accelerate more gradually. Plan ahead, especially for areas like overpasses and bridges, where sleet and ice form first.
Do Not Rush
Besides being prepared, the other central commandment for staying out of trouble on wintertime roads in to take your time. Slippery roads test driver skills, even though some drivers fail to notice. Leave more space between cars, brake and accelerate more gradually. Plan ahead, especially for areas like overpasses and bridges, where sleet and ice form first. Speed limits, you need to recall, are meant for ideal conditions. Staying within a posted speed limit won’t offer much of a defense against a charge of driving too fast for road conditions.
Finally, the end of the year provides ample occasions for celebrations that may include alcohol. So it goes to reason winter is when law enforcement devotes added attention to cracking down on DUI. In 2013, the city of San Diego prosecuted more than 5,500 DUI cases, and got convictions or pleas in nearly all of them (though about 20% of the cases were resolved on charges lesser than DUI). So while it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel after drinking, it’s an especially bad idea at a time of year when concerted law enforcement crackdown efforts are underway.
Last but not least. Put away that cell phone. Distracted driving is dangerous to you and others.