Winter weather in the southeast United States can bring a myriad of troubles for drivers. Hazards, such as ice on roadways, snow, freezing rain or even dense fog, can complicate your travel. Follow these safety tips from the staff of UTC Emergency Services.

  • Know the weather forecast by checking the National Weather Service at gov/mrx/
  • Have your vehicle inspected for battery life (cold cranking amps), brakes, tire treads, antifreeze, and wiper fluid.
  • Slow down and leave extra distance between you and other vehicles.
  • On icy roadways, do not use cruise control. Drive slow enough that hard braking is not needed.
  • When frozen precipitation is falling, keep the defroster on.
  • In fog, use low-beam headlights.
  • Remember that arriving safely should be a higher priority than driving fast.

For more information about the above topics, read on below.

Dense fog contributes to thousands of travels accidents every year. Visibility often changes quickly in fog and can be common due to altitudes of the surrounding area. Tips to avoid accidents during fog are to use your low-beam headlights, slow down, and leave plenty of distance between you and other vehicles.

Rain after a long dry stretch of time causes oil and other debris to accumulate on the road. When it has not rained for a while roads become slick and people are not accustom to driving in it. Rain with temperature near freezing can be a legitimate cause for concern. The important science behind when ice accumulates on the road is not just air temperature going below freezing but also road surface temperature. When a fine layer of ice forms during a freezing drizzle it may be hard to notice on the road, but it is one of winter’s most dangerous types of weather. Flash freeze is when wet roads freeze quickly at night or when there is a rapid drop in temperature behind a cold front. The first true snow fall of the year can also cause issues that include all of the above scenarios but more importantly that drivers having a hard time adjusting to the poor road conditions. Tips to avoid accidents in these hazards are to not use your vehicle’s cruise control, slow down, and leave plenty of distance between you and other vehicles.

There is a long history of deadly traffic accidents associated with intense snow events known as snow squalls. These occur when large amounts of snow are accompanied by strong winds that cause a reduction of reasonable visibility. Tips to avoid accidents during snow squalls is to avoid or delay motor travel all together; however, if caught in this type of hazard reduce your speed, turn on your headlights and hazard lights, and try to exit the road.

One area that can help determine whether or not it is safe to travel is to look out for frost advisories and freeze warnings. These winter notices can help see if your commute will be delayed by minor frost or a hard freeze when temperatures drop below 28 degrees. Freeze warnings are given when temperatures of 32 degrees or colder last for several hours over a widespread area. While a frost advisory is a more cautionary communication when temperatures between 33 and 36 degrees with clear skies and light winds can promote the development of frost.

Be a SafeMoc by reading more about Winter Weather Preparation here and learn what our office has done this semester in our Fall Campus Safety Update here.

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