(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by the Massachusetts State Police.)
With the potential for significant snowfall to hit parts of the state this final weekend of October, the Massachusetts State Police remind motorists of several basic strategies to stay safe in snowy weather. Please remember the following tips this weekend and throughout the coming months:
- Take Note of the Local Forecast: The State Police encourage motorists to take note of local forecasts and plan accordingly for adverse weather conditions. Motorists are reminded that they can dial 511 on their cell phones for current traffic and road conditions on Massachusetts Highways.
- Vehicle Preparation: With a forecast of inclement weather, motorists should ensure that their vehicles are well maintained and properly equipped for winter driving. Motorists should check the fluid levels of their vehicles, particularly washer fluid and anti-freeze, to make sure that they are at adequate levels. Tires should be inspected to ensure that they are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. Motorists should equip their vehicles with a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight and some warm clothing and blankets. Additionally, motorists are reminded to completely clear their vehicles of snow and ice prior to driving, including all lights, for visibility. Clearing vehicles of snow and ice enhances the safety of all motorists by providing an unobstructed view to the operator and prevents snow and ice from flying off vehicles at high speeds and posing a hazard to others on the road. Motorists should also carry a charged cellular phone.
- Reduce Speed: Anticipate delays. Most snow- and ice-related crashes are caused by spin-outs and vehicles sliding off the road because they are travelling at speeds too great for the road and weather conditions. Posted speed limits are set for driving under optimal, dry conditions. If road and weather conditions are adverse, motorists should operate at a speed well below the posted limit.
- Leave Extra Space Between Vehicles: Under optimal driving conditions, motorists should leave at least one car length for every ten miles per hour between them and the vehicle in front of them. If the road and weather conditions are adverse, that distance should be significantly increased in order to afford for increased stopping distances.
- Black Ice: Transparent ice may form on the roadway. If you notice ice forming on any objects, assume that it is forming on the road surface as well. Bridges are usually the first surfaces to freeze. Drive slowly and, if possible, avoid driving on iced-over surfaces.
- Buckle Up: Ensuring everyone in your vehicle is properly restrained is the single most effective thing that motorists can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe on the roads.
- Dial 911 in Roadway Emergencies: In any weather conditions, motorists who become disabled or encounter an emergency on the roadways to immediately be connected to a State Police Communications Center. Motorists should always be aware of their location, noting the route they are traveling on and the number of the exit they most recently passed.