How students can drive safely during winter

Maggie Cooney, Features Editor

As we get further into November and the winter season is upon us, there is almost guaranteed to be some snow and winter weather coming too. And with winter weather comes what many people dread: winter driving.

Especially for young drivers—some of them experiencing snow and icy road conditions for the first time—it can be stressful. But there are some tips that all drivers can follow to make sure they are as safe as possible when on the roads.

One of the most important tips for students to remember is to make sure they leave themselves extra time to get to where they need to go. Leaving late can lead to rushing and speeding, which can result in dangerous situations in icy conditions. Drivers must plan ahead and leave early.

Deputy Eric DeLanoy, Milford High School police liaison, suggests that for many students, this may require getting up a little earlier, so they have plenty of time to get to school in the morning.

In addition, students should plan ahead for winter by making sure that their cars are in good condition for the roads. Eric Hincka, auto teacher at Milford, says that students should check their cars “right now, before it’s too late.”

Many auto shops will offer a free inspection for the winter season. For students, they should be making sure that they check their tires for good traction. A student’s car manual will give information about the ideal tire pressure for his or her car.

It is also important for windshield wipers to be in working order along with washer fluid. Students should also check their cooling systems and antifreeze.

DeLanoy stated that when on the roads one of the most dangerous parts of winter driving is black ice. Because drivers can’t see black ice, they must look at the cars in front of them, especially after a storm. When looking at the wheels of the car ahead, if there is no water splashing off the back wheels, there is a good chance of black ice, and drivers should slow down.

Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken, sometimes accidents happen, so it is important to know what to do in that case. According to DeLanoy the best thing to do in an accident is pull over and call the local police. Michigan law states that drivers must call the police if damage in an accident exceeds $1000, and it is also important that drivers don’t leave the scene of the accident.

Shelby Pryjomski, a senior at Milford, got in a car accident last year when she was hit by a car going too fast on the icy road. Although she was not at fault for the accident Pryjomski stated, ¨It was scary.” She says that since then she always makes sure to drive slowly when the weather is snowy or icy.

For all drivers, one of the most important things to keep in mind in winter is to remain diligent while driving. “Even after two seasons of winter driving, it’s still nerve wracking,” stated Joe Blattert, a senior at Milford. No driver is experienced enough to not pay attention during winter storms. This means, especially for new drivers, stay off the phones, turn down the radio, and watch what is happening on the road.

For new drivers, dealing with the weather will be a new experience, yet it will get easier over time. It is always good to check the weather and be prepared for the conditions.

It is also good for a new driver to understand their limits. That may mean that they have to stay home to avoid driving or ask for a ride from a more experienced driver in difficult conditions.

Hincka, Blattert, and DeLanoy all agree that for all drivers it is essential to slow down and pay attention as we approach the rest of the winter season.