MONTHLY COLUMN: Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns Issues Reminders to WNY Motorists –Be Prepared and Stay Safe During Winter Driving Months

Modified: November 10, 2022 11:37am

November 14, 2022

 Be Prepared and Stay Safe During Winter Driving Months  

Every start to the winter season, we promise ourselves that this year will be different, that you’ll be ready for whatever blizzard Mother Nature sends us. Yes, presently our weather this fall season has been extra ordinary and without any early winter weather events as in years past. However, our weather can change quickly and we can be hit with snow, ice, rain and fog off Lake Erie without warning.

We all know that winter driving can be a test for even expert drivers and you need to be prepared at all times. Before the storm hits, I encourage motorists to take a moment to review a few simple winter driving tips and double-check that you have the 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 bad road conditions, always leave plenty of room between cars. Brake early and slowly giving yourself time to stop and react safely.

Before pulling onto the road, be sure to completely clear snow and ice from your car windows, mirrors, lights, hood and roof. Don’t use cruise control in inclement weather as the slightest touch of your brakes to deactivate can cause loss of vehicle control. 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 get stuck in inclement weather, 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, charger for your cell phone, working flashlight with extra batteries, bright cloth, first aid kit, ice scraper and snow brush. Extra clothing such as gloves, socks and hats, a blanket, as well as non-perishable foods and bottles of water or juice are vital should you become stranded.

In addition, during the winter season, don’t crowd the plow. I ask that you be alert and courteous to County, City and State snowplow operators who will be doing their best to keep the streets open and safe for traveling. Their goal is to maximize safety, be patient and drive with caution. For everyone’s protection, please assist in this difficult task by yielding to their efforts and keeping a safe distance behind snowplows to avoid having your vehicle struck by flying sand and salt. 

Being prepared is the best offense when it comes to driving in bad weather. Take it slow, buckle up, and drive safely this winter season.