WINNSBORO — With freezing rain and icy precipitation in the forecast for Friday afternoon, area motorists are urged to drive with caution.
According to the weather channel there is a 70 percent chance of precipitation that likely will become freezing rain in the afternoon.
While it is best to avoid roadways during inclement weather, that is not always possible, particularly for people commuting home to Fairfield County from Columbia or Charlotte.
Lance Corporal Billy Elder with the S.C. Highway Patrol serves Region 4, which includes Fairfield County. He offered a few reminders for motorists.
“One of the things we want to remind motorists is that after a winter event and the sun comes out, just because the skies clear does not mean the roads are clear. It may be several days after a winter weather event before roads clear. Shady spots and bridges are a great concern,” Elder said.
Water on the roadway can freeze at night when temperatures drop, creating dangerous black ice.
Elder also advised prudence in the face of winter weather such as stocking one’s car with warm blankets and a phone in case one is stranded by the side of the road.
Due to the spread out nature of Fairfield County, it might take first responders longer to get to a disabled motorist’s aid during a winter storm event. Having a vehicle filled with fuel and having some food in car are other good measures to practice.
Make sure the windshield is completely clear of any ice or snow before driving, Elder said. Ice or snow can obstruct a driver’s view and put them at greater risk to wreck.
He also advised motorists to drive only if absolutely necessary.
“Please avoid venturing out to watch it snow. Just because the roads look good in and around your home does not mean the roads nearby are in good condition,” Elder said.
In previous winter events highway patrol had to free motorists from ditches after they ran off the road while watching snow fall. Though snow is not in the forecast, icy precipitation is.
Since a bridge will freeze faster than the rest of a highway, the National Safety Council offers the following tips for driving on icy roads:
1. Drive slower and leave plenty of room to stop, preferably three times as much following distance as usual.
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding.
3. If wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
4. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
5. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive.
6. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
7. Don’t pass snow plows or sand trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
8. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
SHOULD TROUBLE ARISE ON THE ROADWAY:
• If the rear car wheels begin to skid the motorist should steer into the skid, and remove his or her foot from the accelerator. NOTE: Rear wheels may slide the other way during recovery. If so, ease the steering wheel toward the side of the slide.
• This process might need to be repeated a few times to get the vehicle under control.
• Do NOT pump anti-lock brakes, but if the vehicle has standard brakes, pump them gently.
• Apply steady pressure to anti-lock brakes.
IF FRONT WHEELS SKID:
• Remove foot from the accelerator and shift into neutral.
• Resist the urge to steer the vehicle right away because as wheels skid sideways, the vehicle slows and can regain traction.
• When the wheels begin to bite again with traction, begin steering in the direction you want to go. Ease the transmission back into drive and then gently accelerate.
IF VEHICLE BECOMES STUCK:
• Do not spin the wheels. Instead use light pressure on the accelerator to try to ease out of the predicament.
• Sand, kitty litter or salt in the wheel path can help one gain traction, so pour those things into the path if possible.
• Another thing to try is rocking the vehicle by shifting the transmission from forward to reverse and back again. Apply a light press of the accelerator each time the direction changes from forward to reverse and vice versa. However, be sure to check the owner’s manual because the rocking technique can damage the transmission in certain vehicles.
Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services