JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Highway fatalities as a result of the January ice storm highlight the need to beware of dangers including ice, stalled vehicles, debris in the road, and still-closed roads. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) warn Missouri drivers to exercise extreme caution when driving in winter or hazardous weather conditions.
"Driving in winter raises particular safety concerns," said Tom Hall, FEMA director of emergency operations in Missouri. "Drivers need to be extra careful in hazardous conditions not only for their safety, but for the safety of others, including other drivers, highway workers, recovery personnel, and pedestrians."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers safe winter driving tips through The Three P's of Safe Winter Driving:
PREPARE for the trip;
PROTECT yourself; and
PREVENT crashes on the road.
Maintain Your Car:
Check battery and tire tread, keep your windows clear, put nofreeze fluid in the washer reservoir, check your antifreeze.
Have On Hand:
flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares) and blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication and cell phone.
Stopped or Stalled:
Stay with your car, don't over exert, put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light, and, if you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.
Plan Your Route:
Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the maps/directions, and let others know your route and arrival time.
Practice Cold Weather Driving!
- During daylight, rehearse maneuvers slowly on the ice or snow in an empty lot
- Steer into a skid
- Know what your brakes will do: stomp on antilock brakes, pump non-antilock brakes
- Stopping distances are longer on water-covered ice and ice
- Don't idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space
- Buckle up and use child safety seats properly
- Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag
- Children 12 and under are much safer in the back seat
- Sit back 10 inches from an air bag
- Drugs and alcohol never mix with driving
- Slow down and increase distances between cars
- Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking in the road
- Avoid fatigue - Get plenty of rest before the trip, stop at least every three hours, and rotate drivers if possible
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.