I don’t know about you, but I like to make lists, lots of lists. My lists may remind me what has to be done or what I need to pick up or who was going to do what. I think my lists are my way of making sure I don’t forget something.
It’s a security blanket for me. Whether it’s important or something minor- I just don’t like to forget or not be prepared. I feel better when I have a list.
Yet, despite all my lists, I have had to return and make that double-run to the grocery store for the one item that I needed and forgot to purchase when I was just there!
As I watched the snow fall this last Monday, I didn’t need a reminder list that another winter driving season had started. As per usual the first significant snow of the season brought out the tow trucks to lend a hand to those who slid off the slippery roads.
Many if not most of us are experienced drivers however that first snow fall is nature’s reminder that we have to change our driving patterns from summer driving to winter driving. We again realize that the early mornings before the winter sun has made its appearance is a time to be especially cautious. Black ice and slippery bridge decks return to our vocabulary and stream of consciousness.
If we see an accumulation of snow our experience tells us to slow down and consider what is the safe stopping distance between our vehicle and another object-especially another vehicle. If we can, we tell ourselves to “leave early” so we can take our time. Again, our past experience tells us to allow more time between oncoming traffic when pulling onto another roadway. We evaluate our traction from a stopped position. Is it safe to go? We ask ourselves.
This is about the time of year I see or hear on the news about “being prepared” for winter. Any good winter preparedness list should always include a mechanical checkup and tune-up for my vehicle to ensure that it starts and continues to operate in frigid temperatures. My experience tells me that cold weather is as hard on my vehicle as it is me. In addition to a winter tune-up my winter driving list includes gathering emergency winter equipment and making sure my tires are properly inflated. Where is that winter “survival kit” from last year? You know, the small bag of salt, bucket of sand and small shovel for my trunk?
My winter driving list also contained a notation about my children and reminding them about the dangers of winter driving. If I felt they were especially inexperienced with winter driving I would take them out and have them drive with me in the car reminding them of some winter driving rules. It was important to me that they knew and understood driving in July on hot blacktop is far different than maintaining control of same vehicle on the ice covered or patchy ice covered road. I remember talking about driving on hills in the winter, what to do if the car started sliding. It was a time for a dad to share his experiences and provide safety tips to my son or daughter on how to stay safe when driving in snow or ice. I felt it was a confidence builder for them, but it also did wonders for me by lowering my stress level in knowing that my child could handle the driving conditions they will encounter in a typical Wisconsin winter.
As we begin another winter driving season my hope is that you take the time to make a list yourself or maybe make a mental list of the things you need to do to keep yourself and your family safe this winter driving season.
Remember that “patience” is a virtue, especially when driving in the winter in Wisconsin. Please drive “defensively”, make sure you are “buckled-up” and reduce your speed!
One last winter driving reminder on my list that will make all our state, county and city snowplow operators especially grateful- Please do not tailgate the snowplow vehicles. You need to stay far enough behind them (at least 200 feet or more) away from the flying snow so that they can see you when they are doing their job. Remember that without them doing their job you are not going anywhere anyway-so play it safe, stay behind them where they can see you. If you do feel you must pass, make sure there is plenty of distance and a clear lane that is plowed to use and make sure it is a legal passing zone to pass.
By completing my winter driving list I can know start on my next list-the one involving all those bargains during the Christmas shopping season! Have a safe and merry holiday Season.
Sheriff Darrell Berglin