Winter driving key: Slow down

MCT Photo New Mexico State Police Sgt. Clint Varnell said accident numbers increase significantly during the winter months when inclement weather hits.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

he key to traveling safely in a winter weather is slowing down.

New Mexico State Police Sgt. Clint Varnell said drivers don’t realize that slick roads require they leave more space between themselves and other drivers on the road.

“It is extremely important to slow down. Giving yourself more distance between vehicles could save your life,” he said.

Varnell said the number of accidents increases significantly during the winter months when inclement weather hits.

“In this part of the country, drivers aren’t used to driving in the snow. There are a lot of fender bender wrecks, as well as fatal accidents,” he said.

Another issue Varnell said drivers need to remember is that 4-wheel drive doesn’t mean a vehicle has better braking abilities.

“Four-wheel drive will let you go, but it won’t help you stop at all,” he said.

For the state police, the first snow storm of the season is a busy time.

“We watch the weather to kind of see what weather we’re going to have. If we’re expecting a snow storm, we beef up our staff to accommodate all the calls that come in,” he said.

The Car Care Council suggests drivers take time in the hustle and bustle of the holidays to get their vehicle ready for winter.

One important preparation is having a winter emergency kit in the car at all times. The kit should include an ice scraper, snow brush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles and matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.