How to stay safe on the icy roads

The safety of students at BYU-Idaho is at risk as they journey home to their families for the holidays.

Students are susceptible to the risks that come with driving in winter weather.

“Prepare before you travel,” said Josh Tollefson, an automotive instructor in the mechanical engineering department at BYU-I. “Check the road reports to see the road conditions and any possible hazards. You have to be aware that, if you’re driving through mountains, you can easily run into snow or icy conditions.”

Students should be careful how they drive, according to the AAA Exchange Web page on winter driving tips.

They should accelerate slowly, drive slowly and decelerate slowly. Students should also be overly cautious in their observance of other drivers on the road.

“It’s more defensive driving than anything,” said Derrick Gundersen, a sophomore studying architecture. “You have to pay a lot more attention to the roads and to the road conditions. There could be ice you can’t see or a person beside you, so just drive slowly and make sure you have good tires.”

The best approach to winter driving is to be prepared for anything, according to the Idaho Department of Transportation website. Make sure the car has a full tank of gas and has properly inflated tires. It is important to know what roads will be like and which ones to take, according to the website.

Students should remember to pack food, water, blankets, a flashlight and other emergency materials.

“I’m from Alaska, so I drive in bad weather a lot,” said Rachael Hickenlooper, a sophomore studying construction management. “Drive with caution and know that your stopping distance should be greater. You should stop sooner than you do in normal weather. The roads are going to be icy and slippery, and the slower you drive, the better.”

When weather is too dangerous to drive in, Tollefson said students should stop driving and find a place to stay like a gas station, or pull to the side of the road. Tollefson said, if stopped on the side of the road, be sure to turn off tail lights as other cars might use it as a guide for where the road is and run into the car.

Tollefson said that if students are stranded on the side of the road, they should only turn the car on sparingly. Tollefson said to only turn it on to bring up the temperature with the heating, and then turn it off again and use blankets to stay warm.

“If you are driving in hazardous weather, it’s not a good idea to use your cruise control because, if you start sliding and losing control of the vehicle, the car is going to keep accelerating,” Tollefson said. “That way, if you begin to slide or spin, you have more control. And, if you spin, remember to take your foot off the gas, don’t break and turn the wheel into the direction of the spin.”

Tollefson also said students should get to know their car and how to drive in normal weather conditions when the car is a little out of control.

He said to go to an empty parking lot and drive around to get a feel for driving a vehicle when it is out of control.

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