‘Watch out for each other:’ Preparing to drive on wintry roadways

Before ever starting the engine, Sergeant Johnny Bures with DPS says that means a thorough check of your vehicle.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 11:08 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As a winter storm makes its way into the South Plains, drivers who have to get out on the roads will want to make sure they, and their cars, are ready for the slick conditions. Before ever starting the engine, Sergeant Johnny Bures with DPS says you should conduct a thorough check of your vehicle.

Bures says the inspection should include tires, both their tread and air pressure, brakes, topping off of fluids, and making sure there’s plenty of gas in the tank. When it comes to getting on the road after that check, it’s all about taking it slow.

“A lot of times when I was working crashes when I was still on the road, I’d come up and people would walk real cautiously from their car. But whenever I’d ask, well how fast were you going, well they were traveling the speed limit,” Bures said. “The biggest thing I tell folks is hey, whenever the roads are inclement, whenever they’re wet, or there’s ice or snow, you know, there’s any kind of moisture on the ground, then just slow down.”

He says while it’s a positive that you obey the speed limit on some roads, sometimes going 45mph isn’t slow enough. He recommends keeping plenty of time and space between drivers.

“Plan ahead if you’re coming up on an intersection, you know that you’re probably going to have to stop. Then just go ahead and let off the accelerator. Don’t slam on those brakes, you know, because that can cause you to lose control too,” Bures said.

A green light doesn’t mean automatically go either, he says to wait for people who may be sliding through the intersection. Bures encourages drivers to think through ahead of time what they would do if they began to slide on the road, noting that preparation could help them stay calm in the moment.

“Let’s say you feel the rear end of the vehicle sliding out towards the ditch, then what you want to do is you’re going to want to generally, you know, just start trying to turn back into the direction. So just slightly turn back towards the direction you want to travel, not anything real drastic or slamming on the brakes, ‘cause that’s going to cause you to lose control that much more and you’re going to spin out even further,” Bures said.

He also says drivers shouldn’t slam on the brakes if they see first responders or a crash ahead, since that can cause them to become a part of the crash.

“If things are closed and you don’t have to get out, then yeah, definitely stay home and enjoy it from the inside of your house,” Bures said.

If drivers have to make a trip, he says they need to have a cold-weather kit in their car, with things like extra food and water, warm clothing, an ice scraper, a flashlight, and blankets. If drivers get in a bind but are not experiencing an emergency, every Texas driver’s license has a number on the back for roadside assistance.