If You Must Drive In Winter Weather, Be As Safe As You Can

Published 12:10 pm Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I kept telling myself last Thursday morning, the thermometer telling me it was six degrees outside, on its way down to sub-zero that night.

The pitchers and catchers mantra didn’t do a thing for the weather outside but my inner, emotional thermostat did feel an uptick.

If baseball players are gathering in North America, this pestilence known as February cannot endure forever. Respite must be somewhere over the approaching horizon, sound-tracked by the first fastballs of spring training popping into catchers’ mitts in Florida and Arizona.

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February? This year we had Norovirus FTD’d everywhere, followed by a snowstorm and then temperatures plummeting faster than the stock market in 1929. Then, more snow.

Valentine’s Day was plunked right in the middle of February all those years ago in hopes the accumulating love would melt accumulated snow.

Not really, and I digress, as the heading of this editorial might suggest, but I just had to get that out of my system.

Because we’ve got weeks of winter left. Or, as Eyore might tell Winnie The Pooh, months and years and decades of winter left between now and the Heart of Virginia Festival, and we need to be prepared to drive safely through anything winter throws at us.

And the best way to accomplish that feat is simply not to drive at all. If you don’t absolutely have to get behind the wheel before VDOT and the Town of Farmville can plow the snow away, then do not do so. Nobody who did not drive during last week’s snowstorm was in a traffic accident.

On the other hand, the Virginia State Police responded to 3,363 calls for service, statewide, in less than 24 hours. In our own Division III, centered in Appomattox and spreading up to Charlottesville and down to South Hill, State Troopers responded to 93 traffic crashes, 46 disabled vehicles and 261 calls for help between 4 p.m. on that Monday through noon the following day. And our local sheriff’s departments responded to six more crashes in Buckingham, five in Cumberland and 17 in Prince Edward.

No, the safest way to get home safely during such weather conditions is to stay home in the first place.

But, if you must drive—and all of us had to drive home from work that day—the Virginia State Police offer these driving tips:

Clear off all snow from your vehicle—windows, roof, truck and lights.

Add extra time to reach your travel destination.

Slow your speed to fit road conditions.

Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance.

Buckle up and don’t drive distracted.

Move over for all stopped emergency vehicles, high vehicles and tow trucks.

The goal, of course, is to be declared safe at home, as any baseball player would tell you.