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Officer: Drivers should prep for winter driving

Following distance should double in slippery conditions, according to AAA

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Officer: Drivers should prep for winter driving

On a sunny day with clear roadways, most drivers aren't worried about getting snarled in traffic, but a deadly pileup outside Milwaukee on Sunday is a reminder that drivers must remain vigilant.

Truck driver Brandon Pearson quietly nods to himself while he watches the video of the multivehicle pileup that was captured by a Wisconsin Department of Transportation traffic camera.

"If it's snow out there, the road's got to be slippery. Then you have to slow down at least for a couple of miles," Pearson said.

For nearly five minutes, cars slide into each other on Highway 41 outside Germantown.

Lawrence Lepacek said he would have put his hazard lights on if he had encountered this.

"What's scary to me wasn't the cars but the people, because now they're going to get mangled," Lepacek said.

Captain Gary Groelle with the Rock County Sheriff's Office said it's not safe to get out of your car on the freeway.

"I was very terrified, and as a matter of fact, I sent that video to my kids this morning and I said, ‘If this ever happens, you need to make sure you stay inside your vehicle unless you're sure you can get to another safer location,'" Groelle said.

From looking at the video, he said speed was obviously a factor.

"The wise driving aspect is to drive slower than what you think you should so you can correct yourself if you have to," Groelle said.

According to AAA, a vehicle's following distance should double from four seconds on a normal day to at least eight seconds in slippery conditions. This will increase the amount of distance a vehicle has to stop.

Groelle said everyone should have a survival kit in their car with a blanket, shovel, jumper cables, window scraper, cellphone charger, flashlight, extra batteries and enough non-perishable food and water for at least 12 hours.

He also said drivers need to make sure they have enough warm clothes for all of their passengers in case travelers get stuck for a while.

Groelle said if traveling 30 to 40 miles or more, drivers should tell people on both ends of the trip what route they're taking. If something were to happen, they would know where to check for you.

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