Bryan Lovell, Bingham County Sheriff’s Office
Here we are, nearing the end of 2017. Holiday vacations are in full swing, and the shopping hubs are bustling with people. Idaho weather is holding true to history with colder temperatures and unpredictable road conditions. At the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, we are happy to see families enjoying the holiday season and winter recreation, partially because many of our deputies are enjoying it, too. However, this time of year gives us quick reminders that a little bit of preparation, planning and patience will keep you from falling into misfortune.
Failing to plan extra time before you have to be somewhere, to warm up that vehicle and clear all of your windows is one of the most common mistakes people can make. The visibility and weather conditions are already less than a sunny summer day, yet we see vehicle after vehicle with only a small area to see through the windshield. The roads get slick and other drivers are experiencing the same weather conditions, so why not clear all of your windows entirely to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a crash.
Part of planning that extra time is to take into consideration the road conditions. The first day the roads are slick, everyone drives as if it’s still summer, until several of those close call moments remind them that they really are slick. Don’t be in so big a hurry that you forget the road conditions may have changed since you were last in your vehicle. Being patient and attentive to other drivers and traffic is very important if you don’t want that body shop or hospital bill to show up in the mail. Idaho weather is ever changing during winter bringing, snow, ice, freezing rain and even freezing fog. Take a moment to clear your mind and pay attention to what the weather is doing to driving conditions.
Even as I write this on a day that is only 12 degrees outside, I’ve seen several people out and about wearing light jackets, shorts and t-shirts. I get it, I’ve been caught doing that too, especially on that quick run to the convenience store. Everyone is in a hurry. They need to run that quick errand and get back to life. But, add to that slick roads, snow or ice-covered windows, and everyone else that failed to clear their windshields and is also in a hurry to get that shopping deal, or go to work, and we have a recipe for crashes and delays. It’s not fun waiting in the cold at a crash scene while your car is being towed thinking about the extra time and preparations that could’ve saved you the delay.
We always recommend wearing seatbelts and taking advantage of the good safety systems that come with your vehicle. It is the single biggest thing that reduces injuries and death during a crash. But also remember to pay attention to your driving and the ever-changing road conditions. The most common circumstances we see in law enforcement in relation to vehicle crashes is inattention and speed. Almost always tied to those two things is a lack of patience. Planning extra time to get where you’re going, using your seatbelts, clearing those windows and paying attention is the best way to keep you and your passengers safe and reduce the risk of being involved in a crash.