Traditionally, the Midwest is known for fluctuating temperatures that range from rain and sleet to heavy snowfall. Hoosier winters can make for unpredictable and hazardous road conditions. It’s important that you know how to keep your family safe and not take any unnecessary risks. Did you know that a “winter storm watch” means a storm is possible in your area or that a “winter storm warning” means severe weather conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours of the announcement?
In order to better prepare for these kinds of scenarios, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) released winter driving safety tips for families. It’s essential to always be prepared during the winter. Before you leave home, check and continue to monitor both the driving conditions and surrounding area weather. Always proceed with caution on wintery roads.
During the winter, you must consider your safety and the safety of others by adjusting your driving to prevailing conditions. Mixed forecasts can mean road conditions may change from one area to another unexpectedly. Most crashes in winter weather are caused by driving at an unsafe speed. Remember to drive slower and brake earlier to allow yourself more time and space to stop.
Additionally, always remember Indiana’s Move Over Law. Motorists are required to approach with caution when an emergency vehicle is stopped with emergency lights flashing. Vehicles such as snow plows, highway maintenance vehicles, emergency vehicles and roadside service vehicles are included under this law. Drivers should change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if possible. If not feasible, then you must reduce your speed to 10 mph under the posted speed limit and proceed with caution.
While these tips are instrumental to remaining safe during the winter driving season, it is equally important to have a well-maintained vehicle. Before it gets too cold, consider checking your tire pressure, tread depth and brake function, as well as windshield wiper blades, fluid and lights. Always remember to ‘see and be seen’ by others while driving.
Often, when we get behind the wheel, our minds are not entirely focused on the road ahead of us. Nevertheless, always remain attentive and practice defensive driving techniques. Stay warm this winter, and if you get a chance, share these tips with a friend or younger driver. You never know when you might need them. To learn more about how to prepare your family and your home for a winter storm, you can visit www.in.gov/indot/2439.htm.
Rep. Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.