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Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs issues a reminder to WNY Motorists

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Be prepared and stay safe during the winter driving months

Did the Blizzard of 2014 sneak up on you? Last fall you promised yourself that this year would be different--you would be ready. Winter driving can be a test for even expert drivers and you need to be prepared at all times. Before the next storm hits, take a moment to review a few simple winter driving tips and be sure to have proper emergency gear in your vehicle to ensure your safety.

Not all drivers are prepared for winter driving conditions, so take it slow when driving on snowy or icy roadways. Drive as the environment warrants, stay alert and reduce your speed. Due to poor visibility and/or poor road conditions always leave plenty of room between cars. Brake early and brake slowly giving yourself time to stop and react safely.

Keep a full tank of gas along with dry gas in your vehicle at all times. Before pulling onto the road, be sure to completely clear snow and ice from your cars windows, mirrors, lights, hood and roof. Don’t use cruise control in inclement weather as the slightest touch of brakes to deactivate can cause loss of control of the vehicle. Take extra precaution when entering and exiting ramps and bridges as they can be extremely slippery. While four-wheel drive vehicles may help you get going quicker, they won’t help you stop any quicker – don’t get overconfident when driving one.

Make sure your car is properly maintained – the better shape your car is in, the safer you are on the road. Have your battery and ignition system checked, along with your brakes, transmission and tires. All fluids in your vehicle should be checked and topped off: de-icing washer fluid, oil, power steering and anti-freeze. Change or adjust spark plugs, air, fuel and emission filters. Check your headlights, brake and tail lights, blinkers and emergency flashers.

If you ever get stuck in the winter season; you should be prepared by keeping these emergency items handy in your vehicle -- a spare tire, wheel wrench, jack, shovel, jumper cables, tow and tire chains, salt or cat litter, working flashlight with extra batteries, bright cloth, first aid kit, ice scraper and snow brush. Extra clothing, such as gloves, socks, hats and a blanket as well as non-perishable, high energy foods and bottles of water or juice are vital should you become stranded; as is a 12 volt charger for a cell phone.

Being prepared is the best offense against winter driving. Take it slow, be safe, buckle-up. Additional safe driving tips can be found on the Erie County Clerk’s website www.erie.gov/clerk.