Extra care needed when driving in winter

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Traffic flows smoothly Thursday afternoon at the intersection of Danforth and North Lincoln Road. However, road conditions can change quickly in winter. According to Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald, motorists should be aware of weather conditions before traveling in the winter months.

ESCANABA –With the unpredictability of winter weather in the Upper Peninsula, it is always important to take extra caution when traveling, according to Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald.

Motorists may have a chance to use their winter skills over the next several days. The local forecast calls for snow over the weekend and freezing rain the early part of next week.

Oswald provided some tips on how drivers can protect themselves and others when traveling on wintery roads.

Motorists should always keep adequate clothing in their vehicle, said Oswald, in case of emergency and the occupants are unable to get out of the car. Snow tires are also a must for driving during winter, he added.

“I’m a big supporter that all people should have snow tires on their cars,” he said, noting that while this is a positive and can reduce travel issues, it does have some negative side effects.

Oswald said while those who may not have adequate tires on their vehicles generally drive slower and those with snow tires travel at faster rates, generating too much passing of vehicles, and in turn, driving more traffic into the ditch.

Noticing and respecting snowplows is another safety precaution residents and visitors a like should be aware of, explained Oswald. Vehicles should keep a lengthy distance between themselves and the plow because if a driver is too close, it could affect visibility of what lies ahead and could cause the car to hit the snowplow.

Oswald also recommended those traveling in winter to check the weather regularly and base their departure date on when the weather conditions will be best.

“Don’t drive faster than the visibility. Don’t travel in bad weather if you don’t have to,” he said.

The final advice Oswald gives to U.P. drivers is not to always depend on cellphones because service in certain areas can be spotty. He said that drivers should have a phone booster in their car, allowing the driver and its passengers to have an extra reach for a cell tower and service in case of emergency.