A refresher course in safe winter driving

A refresher course in safe winter driving

With cold temperatures upon us, winter weather isn’t far behind. That means new risks will be on the roads.

Trooper Sou Xiong said winter driving can wreak serious havoc if drivers aren’t prepared. In fact, snowy, icy, slushy conditions are responsible for an estimated 18,600 crashes on Wisconsin roads since 2012. On average, 48 people are killed and more than 4,600 are injured in crashes each winter season in the state.

“During winter, that’s when we see all of our major crashes. They go through the roof,” Xiong said. “Prepare if you have to travel and try not to travel if you don’t need to.”

Make sure your vehicle is winter-ready by checking tires, oil and belts and hosts. Also, keep a winter weather kit in your trunk with items like warm clothes, blankets, a flashlight, a shovel and snacks. You can also check driving conditions in real time on 511wi.gov.

“We actually help them update that during snow storms and our dispatch updates that on the website four times a day,” Xiong said.

Xiong said it’s also important to pull over for lights and sirens. Emergency vehicles heading to emergencies are involved in more than 200 crashes on Wisconsin roads each year. Winter weather makes them even more vulnerable.

“Remember to slow down, pull over to the right, and if you see an emergency vehicle over on the right shoulder or a highway truck or tow truck, make sure to move over to the opposite lane and slow down,” Xiong said.

The DOT said safe driving is everyone’s job. But if you’re involved in a crash with no injuries and your vehicle is drivable, move your car to the shoulder or nearby safe place off the road. Then call for help or report the crash online.