As the Hampton Roads area finds itself in the midst of its fourth major winter storm of the winter, it is past time for drivers to heed the warnings from the Virginia State Police (VSP) and officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT): 1) Stay off the roads unless you absolutely must be somewhere else; and, 2) be exceedingly careful if you do drive.
With that in mind, the Virginia State Police released the following traffic safety tips:
- State law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are in active use
- Completely clear all windows and head/taillights of snow/ice before traveling
- Add extra time to reach travel destination
- Slow your speed for road conditions
- Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
- Do not tailgate snow plows or sand trucks
- Always buckle up and ensure your passengers are buckled up as well
- Do not drive distracted
- If your vehicle begins to hydroplane steer your vehicle in the direction you want your vehicle to go
- Brake and accelerate lightly
- Plan ahead before you travel by calling 511 for road conditions or click on http://www.511virginia.org
- Have a charged cell phone and extra blankets, water, snacks in case your vehicle becomes disabled
- Know your location to give to an emergency dispatcher to include the direction of travel in case you need emergency response. Use exit numbers or mile markers when on the interstate as points of reference (For example, Interstate 95 northbound at the 80 mile marker.)
- Motorists are also reminded to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. State law includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.
The Virginia Department of Transportation provided the following tips for drivers:
- Postpone unnecessary travel until conditions improve. If you must drive, know the current road conditions and weather forecasts.
- Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, overpasses and shady spots. Also, if there is heavy snow, ice or high winds, be alert to potential driving hazards including downed branches, trees and power lines.
- Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and snowplows.
- Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary. Remember, the plow is clearing a path for you.