To snow or not to snow? That eternal question comes around each year about this time, as kids all over Central Arkansas long for that elusive school-closing blizzard. According to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, our average snowfall in the Little Rock Metro Area is about 3.5 inches per year.
Although major snow events may be hit or miss in these parts (everyone likely remembers Christmas 2012 where we faced blizzard-like conditions), we still get our share of wintry precipitation. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and the dreaded all-out ice storm can wreak havoc on roads in our area.
Of course, with challenging roads comes an increase in traffic accidents, related to our general unfamiliarity with driving during these conditions. Even if you don’t experience winter storms often, it’s still important to know how to drive in any season’s conditions. Here’s how to take to the road during winter weather.
If you drive in:
Heavy rain: Avoid slamming on the brakes or abruptly correcting your steering. If your vehicle begins hydroplaning, ease off the gas pedal and steer straight until you regain control.
Dense fog: Use fog lights. If your vehicle has front fog lights, they can help illuminate the road and make your vehicle more visible to other drivers. Some vehicles have rear fog lights, which help those behind you see your vehicle from farther away. Keep headlights on low beam (high-beams just reflect off the fog and don’t illuminate the road ahead), and hug the right edge of the road. If you need to pull over, move far away from traffic and turn off your lights. Other drivers might see taillights and think you’re in the traffic lane, which can lead to their going off the road.
Icy conditions: Don’t make sharp turns or corrections, and avoid slamming on the brakes – it could cause skidding. When approaching a hill, wait until the vehicle in front of you has reached the top before you start up. Drive steadily up the hill but avoid going too fast; that could cause you to swerve.
Snowy weather or on snow-covered roads: Don’t pass snowplows or sanding trucks – they are likely trying to clear the road ahead. Approach intersections slowly, and brake gently to avoid skidding. If you slide, turn your steering wheel in the direction your vehicle is sliding.
And in all winter weather scenarios, avoid using cruise control, drive slower than usual, and leave plenty of stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Multi-vehicle accidents are much more common during winter weather driving, but are easily preventable with proper precautions.
One other essential part of winter weather driving is planning. In Arkansas, we have an outstanding resource to assist. IDrive Arkansas is a technology provided by the Arkansas Department of Transportation to help with a variety of traffic-related needs. From current road conditions, highway closings and constructions projects, to a network of traffic cameras in all parts of the state, many people will find IDrive Arkansas helpful no matter the season.
If your family is hitting the road, and you are concerned with what you may find on your trip, be sure to check out this site to ensure a smooth adventure. You can access it online at www.idrivearkansas.com, or download it as an app on your smartphone.
Finally, if recent history should repeat itself, and we get that coveted winter wonderland, make the most of the slow pace with your family and friends. Build a fire (safely of course), put on some hot chocolate, and read a good book or binge watch that favorite show. You’ll be thankful for the chance to get a break from the hustle and bustle. ν