SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
“I was stuck behind a Honda Civic, and they decided to slam their brakes, so I had to slam mine. When I started sliding I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is where I’m going to die,’” said Staff Sgt. Ramon Trejo, Schriever emergency manager.
He learned to be as familiar and prepared with his vehicle as possible to face situations when panic can take over. The likeliness of these situations increases as weather deteriorates.
“Get ready before the storm, so that during the storm you’re good to go,” said Trejo.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses the priorities of winter driving should be to “prepare for each trip, protect yourself and prevent crashes.”
Car maintenance, emergency kit creation and practical application driving are the three best ways to be sure people are ready for whatever could occur on the roads.
“Usually a lot of local places have offers right before winter kicks off to get your vehicle serviced,” said Trejo.
Trejo stresses the importance of purchasing winter tires at these establishments.
“A lot of people think that if they have all weather tires that they’re good to go. That’s not always the case,” said Trejo.
Winter tire tread is more reliable when driving through adverse weather conditions.
Creating an emergency kit equipped with the essentials: flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, is ideal in case motorists get stranded. The emergency management office additionally recommends blankets, kitty litter, plastic bags, phone charger and an AM/FM radio.
“If you have a bag of kitty litter, it can also weigh down your car, and help give you that traction. Which is kind of a two-for-one benefit,” said Trejo.
One way to practice winter driving is driving your vehicle in an open space during adverse weather conditions.
Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Torres, Schriever safety manager, witnessed a situation where someone should have been able to prevent not only themselves, but fellow drivers harm.
“They followed me really closely on a whiteout type of day out on Highway 94, and I was trying to maintain some distance from the guy in front of me. I saw the brake lights come on so of course I touched my breaks and the guy behind me starts fishtailing and slides into oncoming traffic. Fortunately the people heading westbound had enough time to react,” said Torres. “It’s just the matter of knowing the limitations of your own personal vehicle, and your skill set.”
The NHTSA agrees and urges drivers to know their vehicle and practice safe driving. NHTSA offers additional tips: Keep a safe distance between vehicles, pump the brakes if they are non-anti-lock, slam the brakes if they are anti-lock, check your tire tread and pressure, replace your windshield wiper fluid, plan your travel route and pay attention to the road.
For more information, go to www.nhtsa.gov, and www.ready.gov for checklists and tips to prepare for wintertime driving. Contact the safety office at 567-7233 for additional assistance.