Dec. 14, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 49



UTHSC police offer tips for safe winter driving

Many Health Science Center employees are planning to drive across the state or country to visit friends and relatives during the holiday season. But are they prepared? Are you prepared? Driving can be hazardous during the winter months, especially in northern regions. University police department staff members have compiled a list of safety precautions that will help make holiday travel a safer and more pleasant experience for all Health Science Center employees. They suggest everyone abide by the three Ps of safe winter driving listed below.

Prepare for the trip;
Protect yourself; and
Prevent car accidents

Prepare for the trip

Maintain your car. Check the battery and tire tread. Keep windows clear. Put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir. Check your antifreeze.

Keep emergency tools handy. Be sure you have a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (such as sand, kitty litter and floor mats), shovel, a snow brush or ice scraper, warning devices (such as flares) and blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication and a cell phone. For the cell phone, have at least a cigarette lighter charger in case the battery fails. Wall plug-in chargers also are useful if an outlet is available at a gas station.

Stay with your car. If your car happens to stall, put bright markers on the antenna or windows. Shine the dome light and, if you run your car, clear the exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm. Don't over-exert yourself by trying to push your vehicle.

Plan your route. Become familiar with maps and directions and inform others of your route and expected arrival time. Do not ignore barricades or remove them. This could cause you hundreds of dollars in fines or even your life. Allow plenty of travel time. Check weather reports and leave early if necessary.

Practice cold weather driving. Drive slowly. Steer into skid. Know what your brakes will do by stomping on anti-lock brakes and pumping non-anti-lock brakes. Be aware that stopping distances are longer on ice and snow. Don't idle your vehicle for a long period of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

Protect yourself

Buckle up. Use child safety seats properly. Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag. Children ages 12 and under are much safer in the back seat. Sit 10 inches from an air bag.

Prevent car accidents

Be cautious. Drugs and alcohol never mix with driving. Slow down and increase distances between cars. Keep your eyes open for pedestrians. Avoid fatigue. Get plenty of rest before the trip. Stop at least every three hours and switch drivers if possible.