Winter safety tips for drivers and pedestrians
As we continue to experience unusual shifts in winter weather patterns ranging from warm sun to bitter winds, with a combination of wet, heavy snow and springlike rain showers, I would like to remind everyone of the many impacts these changes may have on our daily activities for both drivers and pedestrians alike.
The first consideration is, of course, the melting of snow which may result in standing water, because most of the soil beneath is not able to absorb the water as it would in the warmer months.
This may mean potential road hazards such as hydroplaning of motor vehicles in certain areas of roads. And, due to the shifts in temperatures, these same roads could very easily transition to ice-covered within hours and without warning.
It is important to monitor the conditions of the roads at all times as temperatures continue to fluctuate at or near the freezing point.
Another unusual result of moderate temperatures could be winter fog, which again can appear without notice and create an increased risk to those driving through it.
Remember that in environments of limited light, but not dark, the automatic lights on your vehicle will not activate. If you question the need for headlamps in such conditions, it is best to err on the side of caution and turn on those headlamps — just don’t forget to turn them off when you arrive at your destination.
Other areas where to consider slowing down are on curves and across bridges and overpasses. Just the morning I wrote this, we responded to numerous reports for vehicles which had left the roadway or struck guardrails due to slippery road conditions. Remember that your ability to steer as well as stop can change in a very short time, so don’t assume anything and be prepared for everything.
Similar to driving, those walking or running need also to be prepared for degraded surfaces.
Although most people make every effort to scrape their sidewalks, the potential for slippery surfaces is unavoidable and the need for cautious steps could be the difference between walking and limping as you make your way home.
Also, make sure you are wearing visible clothing if you are walking on or adjacent to a roadway, as the changing visibility creates an additional risk to pedestrians.
My last piece of advice is to start your vehicles and let them defrost, or take the time to scrape your windows, creating an appropriate field of vision through your primary windows. Don’t assume that the warm weather you experienced the evening before will still be there when you wake up and head off to work. Give yourself plenty of time for preparation and travel to minimize the possibility of an accident due to a heightened sense of urgency.
As the old saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Stay safe out there!
Matt Joski is Kewaunee County Sheriff.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Winter safety tips for drivers and pedestrians