Hope Heals: Be a smart winter driver - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Hope Heals: Be a smart winter driver

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The Lookout Editor in Chief Mallory Stiles

Mallory Stiles

By Mallory Stiles
Editor in Chief

I am driving, thinking of nothing really, when I hit the brakes because I am coming to a red light and my car just keeps going. I feel the brakes trying to engage but I have zero traction.

Out of instinct, I go with the flow and gently slide out into the intersection and make my turn. Luckily, I don’t usually leave work at my GM job until about 4 a.m., so there is almost no one on the road.

I force myself to breathe.

I know we are all redefining the word “busy” right now, but nothing is worth risking your life. Be late to a class. Be late to work. Be the annoying person who refuses to go above 20 miles per hour.

I am a notorious speeder and, I will admit, it is something I have to work on. However, in the winter, all of that goes out the window and I have no shame in being a total rule-follower.

I have had too many close calls and have learned a lesson. It’s tough to admit but true. I have been in several accidents and each one was scarier than the last. Some were my fault, some weren’t, but in the end, it just didn’t matter.

I did some light 4 a.m. research on driving. Multiple sources, including but not limited to www.jalopnik.com and www.news.yahoo.com, all say that Michigan is the most dangerous state for winter driving in the continental U.S.

The Department of Transportation estimates that just over 2,000 people die in weather-related accidents annually, and just under 200,000 people are injured.

These statistics are terrifying, but there are things we can do to reduce them.

Leave early. I know it is tempting to stay in a cozy bed when the alternative is braving a winter not-so-wonderland, but it’s important that you don’t feel the need to rush.

Have more than enough gas. Forget inflation until spring because in the event you get stranded, a full tank of gas could keep you warm until help arrives.

Actually clear the snow off your car. I know it can seem like a great idea to only do what you need to, in the interest of saving time, but debris creates an opportunity for a sudden vision-blocking shift of snow.

Lastly, test your brakes. When you are pulling out, see how much traction you have before it matters. Adjust your approach accordingly.

In the movies, car accidents usually kill you quickly. In reality, however you are often alive long enough to make it to the hospital. It’s the traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries and internal bleeding that most often become the cause of death.

No one should have to go through that. So together, we are just going to agree to drive safe.

At least until the snow melts



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