A vicious icy storm has washed over Oklahoma in late October, underlining the fact that a harsh winter has arrived. Although the state is no stranger to inclement weather and frozen conditions, the storm seems to have caught many off-guard with its suddenness and severity.
Governor Stitt declared a state of emergencies in nearly 50 counties as the icy storm knocked out power for more than 300,000 properties, both commercial and residential. The wintry bluster has also been linked to at least one fatal car accident and many nonfatal crashes. The accident reportedly happened near Tulsa when a driver lost control of their vehicle on roads wet from the storm and rolled over, resulting in the death of the passenger.
(To learn more about the Oklahoma winter storm in more detail, you can click here to view a full article about the deadly car accident from Fox 25. You can also click here for a story from The Weather Channel.)
Safe Driving Tips in Icy Conditions
The winter storm that has hit much of Oklahoma and caused so much trouble is likely to be followed by more as winter intensifies and continues. If you are not sure how to safely drive while in icy conditions, then now is the right time to take a quick refresher.
Six wintry driving tips you should know:
- Slow down: You should drive much slower than posted speed limits when the roads are icy. Dropping your speed by 5 miles per hour is the standard for inclement weather, but a full 10-mph reduction might be necessary for wintry conditions. Use your best judgment to decide how slowly you should be traveling to prioritize safety.
- Change speed gradually: When you need to accelerate or decelerate, try to make that change in speed as gradual as possible. Sudden shifts in your momentum are likely to cause your tires to skid and spin ineffectively.
- Keep a safe distance: Tailgating is a recipe for disaster when it is cold and damp outside. You need to increase your following distance to about six seconds instead of the usual three or four. To set your following distance, count seconds as soon as the car in front of you passes a stationary object and stop when you pass the same thing. This time-based rule helps keep a safe distance regardless of your speed.
- Stop only when necessary: Coming to a complete stop when the roads are icy can make it difficult to ever get rolling again. If you can safely do so, try not to come to a total stop by pacing your vehicle when approaching intersections. Even rolling without any gas and at about 3 miles per hour is better than stopping entirely. Please keep in mind that you must come to a stop when it is the safest option, though – do not risk rear-ending another motorist because you did not want to fully stop your car.
- Uphill precautions: Moving uphill in icy conditions is problematic for even experienced drivers. If you try to accelerate while going uphill, you are likely to spin your wheels without adding any inertia. If you come to a complete stop, though, you are also likely to roll backward. Be mindful of your route and try to avoid hills if possible.
- Avoid driving: The easiest way to prevent an accident in inclement weather is to not drive at all. Postpone any trips that you do not need to take. In doing so, you will also help protect other motorists by keeping the roadways clearer and safer.