LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Experience with driving in extreme cold weather differs in the U.S. The Del Rio and Laughlin community must take precautions before hitting the road this season as extremely low temperatures can become quickly life-threatening.
During the rest of the winter season, temperatures may fall below freezing and it’s important to keep an eye on how the weather fluctuates and how it impacts your daily commute according to Alejandro Aguilar, 47th Flying Training Wing safety office occupational safety and health specialist.
“Preparing is the main thing, having a good plan is the way to go when you’re winter driving,” Aguilar said. “Getting your car serviced during this weather season is important because it’s not normal for temperatures to drop [below average].”
With cold conditions, there are various ways to keep yourself safe. The Air Force Occupational Safety and Health has one method in mind– called the “three P’s of safe winter driving:” prepare for the trip, protect yourself and prevent crashes on the road.
“Check for recalls, know your car [and its limits], batteries, lights, cooling system, make sure you have a good ratio of coolant, windshield wiper fluid, floor mats and tires,” Aguilar said.
At times, however, unexpected trips do not allow for routine vehicle check-ups. Joe H. Jaso, 47th Logistic Readiness Flight senior master technician, suggests taking a couple minutes to inspect your vehicle.
“With this type of weather, try to park your vehicle close to a building to keep the wind from hitting it directly,” Jaso said. “If you’re doing your own maintenance, check to see if your battery has any [signs] of corrosion, check your oil and coolant.”
Aguilar also suggests minimizing distractions while driving will help assure you get to your destination safely. Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation report that in 2016 there were 259 distracted driver crashes.
Aguilar emphasized on the importance of not drinking and driving, as well as, increasing following distance on the road.
Each year, about 24 percent of weather-related traffic accidents occur in snowy or on icy pavement, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
Aguilar believes during unusual weather events, most of South Texas natives don’t have much experience on driving in such conditions, which is why he feels extra attention should be given. According to the Texas DOT, from 2012 to 2016, there was a total of 18,264 ice-related car accidents, of which 8,231 were in rural areas.
Whether you’re preparing for a quick trip to the local grocery store or a long drive, preparation is key in order to stay safe. Scheduling a car check-up will help reduce the risks of car-related incidents in cold weather.
Winter weather can be unpredictable, but if you implement some of these safety precautions you’re able to stay ahead for what the cold weather may bring.
For more details on available sources offered to help you stay safe this winter, visit www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips and www.osha.gov/Publications/SafeDriving.pdf