Like it or not, winter season is here usually bringing snow and ice, and according to SRU Police Chief Michael Simmons, there are numerous precautions that drivers should take when it comes to driving in harsh conditions.
“Before driving in the snow, make sure your routine maintenance is done on your vehicle, as well as checking your tires, anti-lock brakes and to just be familiar with your car,” Simmons explained. “It also helps to make sure windshield wipers are good and wiper fluid is full.”
Senior elementary education major Jared Englert said tires are the main thing that he is concerned about when driving in the snow.
“Don’t buy used tires like I did to drive in the snow,” Englert said. “They don’t help at all. Even if you buy a car with four wheel drive, you should definitely have snow tires to help not slide.”
Graduate criminology student Jenna Kozel explained what precautions she takes when she has to drive in bad weather conditions.
“I’m definitely more cautious than usual,” Kozel said. “I don’t text and drive when it’s snowing, which I shouldn’t do anyways – whoops! I make sure I’m paying attention to the road and the cars around me as well.”
Englert, 21, said he doesn’t get nervous when he drives in the snow, he just remains calm.
“I haven’t gotten into an accident while driving in bad conditions, so maybe that’s why I don’t feel any anxiety,” Englert said.
Kozel, 22, disagreed with Englert, saying that she does get nervous when she has to drive in the snow.
“I get nervous, but only when it’s really really bad, like a white out,” Kozel said. “I was driving to SRU from Buffalo, New York last year and my car slid into a ditch on the side of the road. No one was hurt and there was no damage to my car because I was driving so slow, but it was still a scary experience.”
Simmons has been a Police Chief for 19 years total and for two years here at SRU. He explained that most of the wrecks that happen in the winter are because some people drive too fast for weather conditions.
“People need to slow down and adjust their speed based on the conditions,” Simmons said.
Even though Simmons said people should definitely slow down when the roads are not safe for driving, Englert complained that if people go too slow, it can be an annoyance.
“It depends on how bad it is if I slow down,” Englert said. “I personally hate when there’s a dusting and people drive five miles an hour.”
When it comes to snow removal and preparing the roads for a large snowfall, Simmons explained what the university does in order to make it as safe as possible.
“The university does a great deal of preparation for snow removal, from salting to plowing,” Simmons said. “It’s not the snow that’s the main issue when it comes to driving, though, it’s the ice that causes the wrecks.”
During the winter season, Simmons said the SRU police handle one to two wrecks a day, but it’s not all students.
“I would say it’s a fifty-fifty split of wrecks between students and non-students,” Simmons said. “Even on Kiester Road, there are local families that have gotten into wrecks. So it’s not just students that are having trouble driving in snowy conditions.”
Simmons explained that if someone does come across a situation where they start to slide, there are a few things to remember.
“Don’t slam on the breaks if it’s icy, it can cause you to slide more,” Simmons said. “Remaining calm is also never a bad thing, you keep a clear mind that way to make better decisions.”
Being that Kozel has slid on ice in the past, she said you can’t prevent things from happening, but you can never be over-prepared.
“Pay attention to the road, make sure you drive slowly, limit all distractions and put your phone away,” Kozel said. “When sliding, you’re supposed to turn your wheel in the opposite direction you want to go. Say if your car tail goes to the left, you should turn your wheel to the left. It really works.”