MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Winter in the High Desert may not be as extreme as other regions of the country; however, whether you’re driving locally or through the mountains, winter driving can be hazardous.
The safety office on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., encourages everyone to be as prepared as possible for any road conditions.
Always check the weather forecast before departing and listen to any radio travel information. If conditions are dangerous, ask yourself if the journey is essential. Tell someone the route and expected time of arrival; this way, someone will be aware if you are missing for a prolonged period of time.
Consider bringing a hat, gloves, boots and warm clothing; you may have to walk in the event of a breakdown.
“Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms,” stated Brian Korves, safety and occupational health specialist on MCLB Barstow. “The actual threat to you depends on your specific situation.”
Studies show that 80% of all accidents could have been prevented with only one more second to react. In many situations, this one second can be gained by looking far enough down the road to identify problems before you become a part of them, added Korves.
“Many people believe that quick reactions make a good driver. The world's best drivers are trained to anticipate problems early and direct the vehicle appropriately before they become involved in a problem,” explained Korves. “Reacting too quickly can be dangerous if the driver's response is inappropriate.”
Also, to prevent starting problems, begin preparing for the winter in the fall, Korves said. Preparation includes: getting an engine tune-up, ensure lights are in good working order, have the brakes adjusted, switch to winter-weight oil (if you aren’t already using all-season oil), check the battery and voltage regulator, ensure wiper blades are working properly, and check all fluids.
Korves further explained to be cautious at all times … even while warming up your vehicle. Carbon monoxide, present in exhaust fumes, is almost impossible to detect and can be fatal when breathed in a confined area. Due to this danger, do not warm up your car in the garage for a long period of time … the fumes can seep into the home, even with an open garage door, he added.
THE TEN-POINT PLAN FOR SAFER WINTER DRIVING
1. Allow extra time for your journey and reduce your speed
2. Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front, and be certain you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear
3. If visibility is seriously reduced by fog, use dipped headlights and rear fog lights. (Use rear fog lights only when visibility is less than 50 meters). Switch on your wipers to keep your windshield clear
4. Remember to turn fog lights off when they are no longer needed as they can be a distraction to other drivers
5. Remember the obvious -- you can see snow, but you can't always see ice … be aware
6. Avoid sudden braking, accelerating too quickly, and harsh steering in slippery conditions
7. Keep your windshield clear of snow and check from time to time that there is not a buildup of snow on your lights
8. Carry a shovel, extra warm clothing, a blanket, a snack and a drink - especially if you are traveling through isolated areas
9. If you are going on a long journey, advise someone of your destination and what time you expect to arrive
10. If you feel uncomfortable driving in bad weather, consider whether your journey is really necessary or whether you can travel by an alternative to the car
The safety office here encourages all drivers to keep these tips in mind while driving. Lives are in your hands every time you are behind the wheel … slow down and live!
Information compiled from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow’s safety office