The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.

 

Published November 21, 2018

Drive slow and use caution
LAKE OF THE OZARKS – It was February of 2011 and we were on the road, driving in the blizzard bringing The Reporter newspapers back to the office and the roads were horrendous.

There were many sections where we couldn’t tell the difference between the roads and the fields – we had to guess where the road was. When the day finally ended, our usual three-hour drive had turned into a nightmare 12 hour journey.

During that ordeal, we ran across several drivers who had become stuck in the deep snow. One of the drivers was in the middle of the two-lane road and was stuck. The Missouri Department of Transportation had yet to plow that section of Route 54, west of Camdenton.

As we stopped to help, the driver informed us that he didn’t have a shovel in his small front-wheel drive car, did not even have a hat and gloves with him and was trying to shovel his way out with a piece of plastic.

We pulled out our shovel and helped get him on his way. The incident baffled us by the fact that he was not prepared in the slightest bit for driving in a blizzard snow storm, but we know he was not alone.

Now is the time to prepare for winter driving. We always assume if something happens, the good old cell phone will rescue us but as lake area residents know, there are some areas where you cannot get a cell signal. Then what?

Part of being prepared to drive in winter conditions is to know what to look for and how to drive in bad weather.

The preparation begins before you ever enter your vehicle.

• Try to keep informed about changing weather conditions by tuning in to local news channels
• Keep your car well maintained. Make sure your tires are in good shape with plenty of tread; the air pressure is at the proper level and are rotated regularly. Check the battery. Check the antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.
• Keep a small emergency kit in your vehicle with some of the following essentials: Flashlight, first aid kit, ice scraper, a small tool set and some sort of salt or cat litter and the most important item of all, a shovel!

Now you are all prepared to drive in that icy blizzard, right? Remember these tips while driving.
• If driving on icy or snow covered roads, decrease your speed because your stopping time decreases tremendously. Drive slower (like some of those older drivers that annoy you by driving too slow).
• Do not follow as closely as normal to give yourself more reaction time if cars in front of you stop or go out of control.
• Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels lock up, ease off the brakes
• Turn on your lights to be more visible to other motorists
• Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills
• Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads as they will freeze first. Even if temperatures are just above freezing, if the roads are wet, some areas may still have ice on them.
• Don’t assume that your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four wheel drive vehicles can have trouble on icy and snow covered roads.
• Always keep moving. As long as you have even the slightest momentum you can keep going.
• If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels. Turn your wheels side to side as this will clear the snow away from your tires. Use a light touch on your gas to ease your car out.
• If you are still stuck use a shovel (you remember, the shovel that you put in your vehicle ahead of time because you read the above advice?) to clear the snow away from your tires and under your car. Pour sand, salt, gravel or cat litter in the path of the wheels to attempt to get traction.
• Keep emergency numbers on your cell phone in case you are stranded without help in remote areas.
• Remember that rainy conditions are just as dangerous as ice and snow. Drivers should adjust for longer stopping distances in the rain also.

Be alert in hazardous conditions and adjust your driving behaviors accordingly.

And one of the soundest tips in bad winter weather: STAY HOME!

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