Our opinion: Drive with common sense

Published 8:23 am Friday, February 8, 2019

Yesterday was Feb. 7 and it marked another day this winter of snow, driving winds and frigid temps that brought much of the area to a stop.

A little before 2 p.m., MNDot 511 was reporting that most every road in the state was snow or ice covered with many bearing the advice of no travel as the storm steamrolled over the state.

High winds were sweeping up the newly-fallen snow and the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Department closed down a portion of Interstate 35.

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In Rochester, a Minnesota Department of Transportation plow was tipped on its side after a semi tractor-trailer rear-ended it Thursday morning.

All of this before the predicted minus 30 degree windchill bracketed the area.

None of this denotes safety and it’s worth pointing out again the safety precautions that should and need to be taken.

Aside from snow emergency kits and blankets there is so much more that needs to be done.

If this is starting to feel like a lecture, then maybe take out a pen and paper and take down some notes, because people who drive recklessly or take shortcuts not only endanger themselves, they endanger the people they share the roads with and they are endangering those emergency personnel responding to any crashes.

• Clear off windshields and windows: carving a small box out of the ice or snow on windshields and windows is hardly adquate. Line-of-site is still hindered to either side and with conditions like those experienced Thursday, stopping on snow-packed roads at short distances becomes near impossible. Having full range of vision gives you optimal viewing parameters. Take the time, clear the entire vehicle off.

•Put the cellphone away: Often times driving on snow-packed roads is hard enough the way it is, but trying to do it one handed while distracted by someone on the other end of a call is reckless and irresponsible. Each person driving in snow storms or blizzards is depending on the driver next to them to do their part to drive safe. If you’re distracted by the cellphone, you are immediately putting those around you at risk.

•Leave ample room between vehicles: If a semi rear-ending a snowplow can knock it on its side, imagine what it does to a passenger car. In a press release Thursday, MnDot warned drivers that if they must travel to leave 10 car lengths between themselves and plows. That’s good advice for any vehicle.

Use common sense: It starts with this — If you don’t have to go anywhere, just stay home. Can’t be at risk or put others at risk if you stay safe and sound at home. But using common sense expands to other things as well. Reduce speed, recognize the conditions, plan ahead, don’t drive recklessly, don’t ride another vehicle’s bumper and of course, the no-brainer, don’t drink and drive. It just boils down to using your head.

We’re not yet to mid-February and there is ample time for more storms down the line worse than this one. Remember, you are not the only one trying to get somewhere and everybody wants to get there safely.