Oneida County Sheriff offers safety tips for winter driving – WRVO Public Media

With winter weather making its way through central New York, the Oneida County Sheriff’s office is reminding drivers to take precautions.
For Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol snow and winter weather means increasing car accidents. Maciol said it’s important for drivers to remain calm when road conditions change.
“We had some freezing rain recently and we had, in about an hour period countywide, we had about five dozen separate accidents in a one-hour period because everybody panicked,” Marciol said.
He wants to remind drivers that the best thing to do in snowy conditions is to slow your vehicle.
“Winter is here,” Maciol said. “Probably the most important tip that I can give anybody when it comes to winter driving is to slow down. Especially the first time that we have a winter storm.”
In the case of drivers becoming stranded, Maciol said the best thing to do is stay in the vehicle and contact emergency services right away.
“Just dial 911,” Maciol said. “Anything like that, when you are stranded in the middle of a snowstorm or go off the road, that’s certainly enough of an emergency to dial 911.”
He said things like keeping an emergency kit on hand, letting others know of your travel plans and making sure your vehicle is in good working order are all ways to stay safe on winter roads.
Here is the complete list of tips from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office:

Winter Driving Tips and Travel Preparation from Oneida County Sheriff’s Office
1. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
• Have working wiper blades
• Fill up on antifreeze and window washer fluid
• Check for proper tire inflation
• Ensure your battery has sufficient charge

2. Keep an emergency kit ready in your vehicle. It should include:
• A blanket or warm clothes (boots, coat, gloves)
• An LED flashlight
• Jumper cables
• Snow Brush
• Tow strap (no chain)
• Shovel
• Bag of sand or cat litter for traction
• Battery-operated radio
• Map to use in case of a road detour
• Non-perishable snacks that will store well

3. To avoid slipping off the roadway and getting in a crash, drive more slowly and give yourself more room to stop.
• Brake gently to prevent skidding
• Reduce speed in snow, sleet, and rain.
• Use extreme caution when driving down unplowed roads.
• Pull off the road if you’re tired or if outside conditions worsen.

4. If your vehicle does get stuck:
• Never spin your wheels. That only digs the tires in more deeply
• Use a shovel to dig around the wheels and undercarriage
• Turn the steering wheel from side to side to clear snow away from the front tires
• Gently ease the vehicle out
If that doesn’t work, try rocking the vehicle by shifting into forward and giving it some gas and then shifting it into reverse and accelerating until the vehicle is free

5. Buckle up.
• New York State Law requires that all passengers are buckled regardless of age or seating position.

6. Limit Distractions, winter roads can be treacherous. Your focus needs to remain on driving. Some distractions are:
• Cell Phone
• Radio
• Eating or Drinking
• Others in vehicle

7. Let other people know your travel plans, as well as telling people the route you plan to take, so if you do not arrive they will know where to start looking.

8. If you find yourself stranded:
• Make sure your vehicle has fresh air by checking the exhaust system to see if it’s plugged by snow.
• Stay calm and stay put. Your chances of being rescued are greater if you remain in one place. Staying in your car will decrease your risk of frostbite or hypothermia.
• Run your engine for heat about once an hour (every half hour in extreme cold).
• Tie a piece of brightly colored cloth to your antenna to alert others and aid rescuers.
• Crack your window if you are able to do so, safely.
• Carbon monoxide produced by your vehicle is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill

9. Listen to the radio and check the news for weather reports or visit weather websites or phone apps.
Please note to be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

10. Clear off your vehicle.
• Snow remaining on your vehicle can disrupt your vision and be dangerous to other motorists on the road.