Local law enforcement: When winter weather outside gets frightful, make sure driving isn’t

MADISON, Wis. — With the first snowfall comes less visibility and slippery conditions, and despite it coming every year, local law enforcement officials said there are always drivers out there that need to be reminded that road behavior has to change with the seasons.

“(It’s) generally a thing that happens every year, everyone needs to be just reminded,” Wisconsin State Trooper Hayden Brown said.

Madison Police Department public information officer Hunter Lisko agreed — when the weather outside gets frightful, the driving tends to be less than delightful.

“Every year we expect to see it, right? It seems like everyone’s slip-sliding around the roads,” he said.

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According to Lisko, the Madison Police Department, in partnership with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, will be stepping up enforcement in the coming days “through major thoroughfares like the Beltline, E. Washington Ave., Stoughton Rd., John Nolan Dr. and likely others,” he said.

Both Brown and Lisko say the top reminder for winter driving: slow down.

“Roads are icy, roads are slick and your stopping distance is going to be increased just as a natural product of that,” Lisko said.

“A lot of people are now in all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive that doesn’t mean that you stop automatically though,” Brown said.

That goes for both residential streets and highways.

“The Beltline is, usually it’s one of the first roads to get serviced for plows and for salting and things like that, but that is not always necessarily the magical remedy that means you get to go faster than the speed limit,” Lisko said.

He said to also be careful on bridges and highway ramps which are always prone to be more slippery.

“We actually had a night a few days ago where we experienced kind of the first cold snap and freeze and we were literally having to redirect people off of on-ramps because there was so much ice and it was getting to be a really hazardous driving situation,” he said.

Being careful doesn’t stop when you park your car. Lisko said to avoid starting your car and going inside while it warms up.

“That’s a recipe for theft,” he said, “and so if you don’t have an automatic start that will disable the engine if someone tries to get into it.”

Meanwhile, Trooper Brown said if you’re taking a longer trip on interstates, stock up in case your car battery dies or you get stuck.

“Keep your cell phone fully charged, keep your charger with you, make sure you got some snacks, in the car, water, a blanket.”

“If you need to you, can call 911 or you can call a non-emergency number and get transferred over, depending on where you are in the state, to a county dispatch or the Wisconsin State Patrol and then always an officer or trooper is able to get out there,” he said.

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