Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Winter weather challenging for motorists

January 9, 2002

Although the recent weather has been unseasonably mild, the stormy months of winter loom ahead.

Basehor city superintendent Gene Myracle said city crews were out last weekend treating roadways for the first time this year.

"We sanded last Saturday night to help make the streets safe for citizens,"

Myracle said. "If it looks bad and needs it, we do hot spots and intersections."

The public works department will plow city streets when snow is three to four inches high. With smaller amounts, crews use salt and sand to clear roadways.

In the winter, the public works department monitors the weather via the National Weather Service.

Public works employees are on-call during those months and can have two trucks sanding and salting roads, and another truck plowing roads within an hour of inclement weather.

And while the public works department remains ready for the worst, Myracle said he expected this winter to be more cold than icy.

"I have heard it is going to be a dry, cold winter," he said. "We sure don't want anything like Buffalo (N.Y.)," referring to the recent seven feet of snow the city received in seven days.

Although the weather conditions are out of anyone's control, driver safety is not.

Basehor Police Chief Vince Weston said drivers should be extra careful during stormy weather.

Weston said most bad weather accidents occur when drivers are going too fast or have misjudged stopping distances.

"It takes five times the distance to stop on ice than it does on a dry road surface," Weston said.

Weston also advises drivers to allow 10 seconds when trailing a vehicle instead of the usual two seconds.

It is also helpful to drive with headlights on low beam for better visibility.

If a vehicle does become stranded, Weston said to stay with the vehicle until the authorities have been notified.

"Make sure the vehicle is visible by leaving the flashers on and notify the authorities of the location," he said.

In preparation for the cold months ahead, AAA of Kansas has released some safety tips for motorists this winter.

Winterize the car. Be sure to check the battery, radiator, wiper blades, belts, hoses, fluids (oil, transmission, brake and windshield washer), air filter and tires.

Carry a winter survival kit. In case the vehicle becomes stranded, some items could prove useful in getting the vehicle back on the road or keep the driver safe while waiting for help. The kit should contain a flashlight, blanket, booster cable, flares or reflective triangle, a bag of sand or cat litter, ice scraper and small shovel.

AAA of Kansas also recommends choosing warm clothing in case a driver becomes stranded and always wearing a seat belt while in a vehicle.

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