In winter, Missouri can transform into challenging terrain. Snow and icy conditions in particular may pose significant risks for drivers.
Understanding the dangers and adopting precautionary measures can be important for staying safe during this season.
The need for travel
Springfield sees about 14 inches of snow per year, with January getting the most snow at an average of 4.7 inches. When snowstorms hit or are possible, drivers should consider the necessity of travel.
Avoiding nonessential trips not only safeguards your safety but also aids road crews in their efforts to clear pathways swiftly. Before going on a journey, evaluate whether the trip is truly necessary.
If you must drive, meticulous preparation can make a world of difference. Tracking local weather forecasts and traffic reports allows you to plan your travel during windows when the weather is better than it would otherwise be. Checking the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traveler Info Map provides real-time updates on road conditions.
An ice scraper, booster cables, blankets, extra clothing, gloves, water, nonperishable food, flashlight and a bag of sand or cat litter are good items to store in your trunk. Maintaining a fuel tank at least half full can help with delays.
Safe driving practices
Reduce your speed, increase the following distance and drive based on conditions rather than posted speed limits. Use headlights for visibility, especially during snowfall. Bridges and overpasses tend to ice over sooner than other road segments, demanding extra vigilance.
Understanding the limitations of four-wheel-drive vehicles is necessary. While they may provide extra traction to move through snow, they do not enhance braking or handling on icy surfaces. In the event of a slide, steer in the direction of the slide to regain control.
Stranded in snow
If, despite all precautions, you find yourself stranded in deep snow, you can take a few steps. Signal for help by tying a brightly colored cloth to your antenna. Move necessary items from the trunk to the passenger area, and wrap yourself in extra clothing or blankets for warmth.
Running the motor and heater for about 10 minutes per hour, while ensuring the exhaust pipe is clear, can stave off the biting cold. Staying awake and moving your limbs for circulation are additional measures to enhance your chances of survival. Do not eat unmelted snow, since it lowers your temperature.
By embracing these guidelines, you fortify yourself against the perils of the icy roads, ensuring a safer journey during the winter months.