As headlines discuss the massive snowfall totals in D.C. and elsewhere on the east coast, residents of Mississippi were forced to contend with wild winter weather of their own this weekend. Though no one in Mississippi saw 2+ feet of snow, several inches of snow, ice and even tornadoes were spotted across the state.
According to the National Weather Service, at least two tornadoes were spotted in southern Mississippi. The tornadoes left miles of destruction in their wake, tearing down trees, downing power lines and damaging homes. At the other end of the state, and the other end of the weather spectrum, several inches of snowfall occurred, with Oxford and the suburbs of Memphis getting hit the hardest.
Experts say the snowfall, while nowhere near as bad as what drivers in New York or Philly are dealing with, can create serious traffic hazards. Even a light dusting of snow can cause problems, and police departments have reported an increase in accidents as the bad weather began.
So what makes winter weather so dangerous for drivers? Though snow can be problematic, the biggest problem by far is ice. Ice acts as a barrier between your tires and the road, preventing the rubber from gripping the asphalt. This lack of friction makes it very difficult to maintain control over your vehicle, increasing dramatically your risk of being involved in a serious accident.
So what can you do to improve your odds of arriving to your destination safely in winter weather? The first tip is to slow down. It can’t be overstated: slowing down is the single most important thing you can do in the event of hazardous winter weather. High speeds make it easy to lose control and very difficult to stop. You should never drive faster than posted speed limits and, in the event of winter weather, you will likely need to drive well below posted speeds. Moving more slowly increases the time you have to bring your vehicle to a stop, thus increasing your odds of avoiding a dangerous wreck.
Beyond slowing down, it’s important to always wear a seat belt. It’s also good to avoid stopping on icy roads for other accidents. Though being a Good Samaritan is nice, it’s often the case that winter accidents come in multiples and being stopped in an area where a wreck has already occurred dramatically increases the likelihood that you will be involved in a similar accident. It’s far better to contact authorities and let them handle the wreck.
To help maintain control of your vehicle, avoid driving on hills or other dangerous stretches of road, such as sharp curves. Avoid overcorrecting, as this can cause a slip or slide to spiral into a complete loss of control. Finally, go easy on your brakes. Applying your brakes quickly is a common cause of slipping and sliding and, unfortunately, your attempt to drive more safely may very well be what leads to an accident.
Source: “North Mississippi receives about two inches of snow,” by The Associated Press, published at GulfLive.com.