Preparing for winter driving


Central Illinois - More than a dozen counties in southern Illinois are under a winter storm warning and more are under a winter storm watch from the National Weather Service.

Forecasters say they expect a mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow and ice in the area. They say precipitation will begin Thursday afternoon and spread through the evening and into the day on Friday.

National Weather Service experts say they're concerned because the precipitation will be paired with below freezing temperatures in southern Illinois. They say there's the potential for accumulations of up to 4 inches of sleet and snow in the region.

The watches and warnings in Illinois are south of Interstate 70.

Meantime, Illinois State Police are urging drivers to prepare themselves and their vehicles for winter driving.

Drivers are encouraged to prepare their vehicles and to think of safety first, before heading onto roads that are slick from snow and ice. This is especially important for the first big snow of the year, when motorists are unaccustomed to winter driving. Remember:  Fill up your gas tank, allow plenty of extra time, and take it slow. 

"Winter provides new challenges and responsibilities for both the public and the ISP," said Lieutenant Cory Ristvedt, District 12 Interim Commander.  "We ask that drivers be well prepared for the upcoming winter season".  "Allow sufficient time to reach your destination, ensure passengers in the vehicle are securely restrained, drive defensively, and make sure your vehicle is properly maintained to handle the effects of cold temperatures," he added.

Other safety tips include:

  • Plan ahead and only make absolutely necessary trips - check the forecast.
  • Don't crowd the plow – remember, a snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Watch out for black ice – roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow

when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, and shady areas – all are prone to black ice.

  • Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle's fuel line

  • Dress warmly – choose layers of clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
  • Have an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, a flashlight, windshield

  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Always wear a safety belt.  
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