With Winter Storm Niko hammering the Northeast, the Massachusetts State Police is reminding drivers to take extra measures to stay safe in snowy weather. When driver visibility is low, of course, that means staying off roads entirely.
The law enforcement agency offered these basic strategies for winter weather driving:
- Follow Police Agencies on Social Media for Updates — @MassStatePolice, for example, posts road closures and traffic advisories on Twitter regularly. The Massachusetts Emergency Agency's twitter account is @MassEMA. State and some local agencies are also using the hashtag #MAsnow and #MAwx while posting weather-related updates.
- Take Note of the Local Forecast — The State Police encourages motorists to check local forecasts and plan accordingly for adverse weather conditions. (Motorists can dial 511 for current traffic and road conditions on Massachusetts highways.)
- Vehicle Preparation — With a forecast of inclement weather, motorists should ensure that their vehicles are well maintained and properly equipped for winter driving. Check fluid levels, particularly washer fluid and anti-freeze, to make sure they're at adequate levels. Inspect tires to verify they're properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. Equip vehicles with a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight and some warm clothing and blankets. Additionally, motorists should completely clear their vehicles of snow and ice prior to driving, including all lights. Clearing vehicles of snow and ice enhances the safety of all motorists by providing an unobstructed view and preventing snow and ice from flying off at high speeds. Motorists should also carry a charged cell phone.
- Reduce Speed — Anticipate delays. Most snow- and ice-related crashes are caused by spinouts and vehicles sliding off the road because they're traveling at speeds too great for the road and weather conditions. Posted speed limits are set for driving under optimal, dry conditions. If road and weather conditions are adverse, motorists should travel at a speed well below the posted limit.
- Leave Extra Space Between Vehicles — Under optimal driving conditions, motorists should leave at least one car length for every 10 miles per hour between them and the vehicle in front of them. If the road and weather conditions are adverse, that distance should be significantly increased to allow for greater stopping distances.
- Beware of Black Ice — Transparent ice may form on the roadway. If you notice ice forming on any objects, assume that it's forming on the road surface as well. Bridges are usually the first surfaces to freeze. Drive slowly and, if possible, avoid driving on iced-over surfaces.
- Buckle Up — Ensuring everyone in your vehicle is properly restrained is the single most effective action you can take to keep everyone safe.
- Dial 911 in Roadway Emergencies — In any weather conditions, motorists who become disabled or encounter an emergency on the roadways should dial 911. Maintain awareness of your location, noting the route you're traveling on and the number of the exit you most recently passed.