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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Media Contact: Brandy Brubaker
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Caution Advised when Winter Weather Hits
Go Slow in Ice and Snow

RICHMOND - Snow and ice have returned to Virginia's weather forecast and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reminding motorists to use caution.

The Old Farmer's Almanac is calling for a "teeth chatteringly" cold winter this year and that means motorists need to take extra precautions to stay safe.

From December 2013 through February 2014, snow or sleet was a contributing factor in 3,202 traffic crashes in Virginia. Five people were killed and 1,058 were injured.

"If you have to drive in snowy or icy conditions, maintain a safe speed and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you to ensure you have enough time to slow down," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "Make sure you give yourself extra time for travel so you don't feel rushed. Remember, just because you have a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, doesn't mean you can ignore snow and ice on roadways."

When the road surface is covered with snow or ice, driving becomes hazardous and visibility is reduced. Drivers are encouraged to slow down and increase following distance from three seconds to at least six seconds. The braking distance for road surfaces with rain, snow and ice can be three to nine times greater than stopping distances on dry roads.

Follow these tips for safe travel in winter weather conditions:

  • Safely remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, including the roof, before driving. Snow falling off your vehicle can impair your view or the view of another driver.
  • Turn on your lights and make sure that they are clear of snow and ice.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and avoid distractions when behind the wheel.
  • Steer with smooth and precise movements to prevent skidding.
  • Don't cut in front of large trucks, especially during winter driving conditions. Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop. Don't pass snow plows or sanding trucks.
  • Watch for ice on bridges and in shady areas. Bridges freeze before other road surfaces. Just because you can't see ice doesn't mean itís not there.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car in case you become stranded. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management suggests filling the kit with water, non-perishable food, blankets, hats, gloves, a flashlight, an ice scraper, jumper cables, road flares, a first aid kit, etc.
  • Put a bag of cat litter or sand in your vehicle to add weight and to use for traction if you are stuck.
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