Jan. 27, 2016
By Marisa LaBello
As the weather changes to icy extremes, possible car troubles become a burden for students.
Threre are ways to ensure safe travels when driving your car this winter. After dealing with a significant amount of battery issues and lock outs, UW-Whitewater police officer Steve Hanekamp has tips for those behind the wheel.
“A big tip for people driving is to not leave the vehicle running if you aren’t near it,” Hanekamp said. “This is a major cause of lock outs, and there is also the chance of theft while keys are in the ignition. Someone can easily just take off.”
It is crucial for students to be checking their fluid levels on a regular basis, but in the winter especially, Hanekamp said. It is important to be cautious of gauges overheating before driving in freezing temperatures.
These malfunctions can result in breakdowns, leaving someone stranded. Hanekamp emphasizes the importance of having a safety kit handy in the car in case of an emergency.
“You should have a blanket to stay warm, water, a flashlight, some kind of snack and safety signage to alert others that you need help,” Hanekamp said. “If you do get stranded, stay in the vehicle and notify the police as soon as possible.”
With heavy snow and slippery ice, there is a greater chance of accidents on the road. Student drivers need to be extremely careful of their speed.
“A lot of times in the winter when we see accidents, it’s because of speed,” Hanekamp said. “We hear a lot of people say they just didn’t have time to slow down.”
Being a commuter for three years, junior Jessica Berg is used to being on a time crunch. She said she tries her best to take precaution when snow falls.
“I live 40 minutes away, so I always try to give myself more than enough time,” Berg said. When the roads are bad, I try to leave at least a half an hour earlier so I’m not in a rush if I’m moving slow. Sometimes even an hour just to be safe.”
Berg said she gets prepared the night before if snow is expected.
“I always check make sure I have enough gas the night before so I’m not panicking on the road,” Berg said.
Checking all the parts of a vehicle is important, especially the windshield. Hanekamp explained the importance of having full, clear vision.
“A lot of accidents happen due to restricted vision,” Hanekamp said. Drivers also need to keep a close eye out for pedestrians especially. They’re moving faster to get out of the cold weather, so it is another reason to take your time and be prepared to stop.”
Taking safety precautions will keep you and others safe this winter, decreasing the amount of potential injuries and car troubles. Remember not to follow too closely to vehicles ahead, watch for snow piles and break early.
For any questions of information on driving this winter, contact the UW-W Police Services at uwwpolice.org or call (262) 472-4660 for a non-emergency.