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Winter Driving - February, 2024


Bridge Freezes Before Road Sign

We truly hope this month's newsletter finds everyone happy and well. 

As we are well into Winter 2024, we thought it appropriate to write about safe winter driving, especially in light of the recent snow and ice we have received.  Qualitatively speaking, we've seen a ton of slide-offs in the past couple weeks along with area wide school closures. 

First, you must know the enemy!

If the road looks all shiny and wet but there is no spray coming from under your, or anyone else's tires, that's a sign of possible ice.

If you are driving on a "snow" covered road and the vehicle in front of you has no snow in between the tire tread or no snow is being moved by the tires, that's a sign of hard packed snow, aka, ICE!

And what about those "Bridge Freezes Before Road" signs?  It is a reference to time, not space.  In other words, while the roadway that is attached directly to the surface of the earth retains some residual heat from that very earth, bridges on the other hand are surrounded on all sides by freezing air and blowing wind.  You could quite literally be driving on wet road one moment and then spinning in circles on an ice covered bridge the next.

Ice is especially long lasting on our often shaded and infrequently traveled gravel roads. 

Bottom line.... Be mindful of possible icing conditions as temperatures drop closer and closer to the freezing point.  Of course, this is all dependent on the presence of water.  A good way to check for ice while driving is to roll down the window and touch the front of your side mirror.  If there is ice on the mirror, there a good chance there could be ice on the road.

So, what do we do about this?  If you can, opt out of driving altogether.  If not, SLOW DOWN!  Increase following distance to allow for a longer reaction time in the event of a driving mishap.  Brake sooner.  Keep your eyes up.  Look down road. Anticipate curves, hills and stops.  Drive with your fingertips and toes.  Wait, what? 

Imagine for a moment that the only part of your hands that is in contact with the steering wheel is the very tip of your finger, the part right below your fingernails.  Now, imagine that the only part of your foot that is in contact with the brake and accelerator pedals is the very tips of your toes (the part a ballerina stands on).  Think about how much force you could exert on the steering wheel or the pedals if this were the case.  When the roads go, um, "north" the softer your driving input, the better.

Always at your service,

The Callaway County Sheriff's Office