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Playing it safe on the ice

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County
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Hollywood, MD -
Ice is great for keeping cold drinks cold and as a playing surface for hockey. Ice skating, when done properly is a beautiful sport and activity to behold, too. However, ice never has been good as coating for roads in frigid temperatures. Then it can become deadly. Still motorists, feeling all they need to do is use common sense, attempt to drive on the slick surface. That’s a risky plan for even the best drivers.

A web page called “IcyRoadSafety” lists several things motorists should heed when faced with slick road surfaces.  Number one on the list is “reduce your speed.” Auto experts advise that high speeds make it easy to lose control and difficult to stop. Motorists should drive no faster than 45 mph when roadways are slick.

Overconfidence is a factor in many serious and fatal crashes on icy roads. Which brings us to number two on the list—“don’t drive on icy roads.” Avoid travel and stay off the roads until the threat passes.

IcyRoadSafety also advises motorists encountering slick roads to: wear your seatbelt, avoid hills or dangerous roads (i.e. hairpin curves), turn into a slide, make checking the daily weather forecast part of your daily routine (especially during the winter), go easy on brakes (anti-lock brakes do not work well on ice or snow) and—surprise—icy road conditions are not the time to be a Good Samaritan. Instead of stopping to aid another motorist in distress, call 911 so that expert aid can be rendered immediately.

Some other severe winter weather tips have been offered by AAA. Motorists should avoid driving while fatigued. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area. Properly inflate your vehicle’s tires. Keep you vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze-ups. Don’t use cruise control on a slippery surface.

To be sure, there is an opposing view to the abundant caution average motorists should exercise in severe winter weather. That view comes with a simple caveat—we are average. On the web site “How Stuff Works,” writer Jonathan Atteberry cited a History Channel show called “Ice Road Truckers.” Atteberry wrote, “The History Channel television show follows these weather-savvy drivers as they carry multi-ton truckloads across dangerous stretches of frozen lakes in Alaska and Canada, braving brutal weather and sleep deprivation in the process. While the drivers on the show have traveling on ice down to a science, most people have a harder time handling slick winter roads. In fact, icy roads contributed to nearly 500 U.S. fatalities in the winter of 2008-2009 alone.”

Atteberry’s story on how to handle driving on slick surfaces can be read in its entirety here. Enjoy reading it and, if you are just an average driver who wants to get from point A to point B as safely as humanely possible, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and chill out. “I’m not going anywhere” is the ideal wintertime mantra when the ice turns the roads into a deadly surface.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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