The following information is provided by Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton:
Lately our winter precipitation has brought warm temperatures with it. That being said, it is still winter time in the North Georgia Mountains and one never knows when conditions may change. Along with winter weather comes special considerations when traveling.
It is always best not to drive during snowy or icy conditions. Whenever possible avoid driving during extreme winter weather. Even front wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles are susceptible to snow and ice. If you must drive, the following suggestions are meant as helpful tips to avoid increasing the risk.
During winter you should always make certain that your vehicle is prepared. Vehicle preparation should include keeping your vehicle properly tuned up and making sure that your tires are in good shape. Tires should be properly inflated and have a tread depth of at least an eighth inch. Always keep plenty of fuel in your vehicle’s tank and make sure that your battery is up to date and properly maintained.
There are several items that are recommended to be kept in your vehicle during cold weather. These are especially important if you are traveling long distances. Good items to have on hand include bottled water, a flashlight with extra batteries, spare warm clothing, a warm blanket or sleeping bag, jumper cables, snow chains, a tow strap, wooden matches in a water proof container, a fully charged cell phone, and road flares, safety triangles, or both, to make your vehicle more visible. Cat litter can be used as a traction aid, much like gravel, but is easier to carry in a vehicle.
Some things to consider when driving include slowing down by at least half the speed normally recommended and allowing at least twice the distance between your vehicle and another. Remember to use more gentle controls during slippery conditions. You should start, steer, and stop, your vehicle in a gentle, steady, and smooth fashion. If you are breaking and your brakes start to lock ease up on the pressure. If your rear wheels start to skid take your foot of the brake and steer the vehicle in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. Do not try to accelerate during a skid and never use cruise control during snowy, icy, or wet, conditions.
If you become stuck or stranded in the snow, it is almost always better to stay with your vehicle and wait for help. If you run the vehicle to use the heater, be sure that the exhaust is not obstructed and always leave at least one window slightly open to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only leave your vehicle if you know exactly where you are and are certain that you will improve your conditions by doing so.
It is always better to stay off the roadways during winter weather conditions such as snow and ice. The information I have provided is by no means a comprehensive list and is only meant to offer some suggestions for being safer. All the preparation in the world cannot guarantee that you will arrive safely to your destination if you choose to drive in poor conditions. My first advice is that you not drive during extreme weather. If you must, please take precautions and drive carefully.
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