Winter is coming: practice driving safely

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

With winter’s icy grasp around the corner, it’s important Airmen understand proper winter driving safety.

“The weather here is unpredictable,” said Airman 1st Class Gavin Carpenter, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. “It’s important to be prepared and always have a plan.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation conducted a report that showed 59% of crashes in Colorado occur when snow, sleet or hail is present. 

“Winter weather causes up to 500,000 crashes every year [across America],” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Cook, Peterson-Schriever Garrison noncommissioned officer in charge of occupational safety. “There are consequences for not driving safely and intelligently. Some of them can cost you your life.”

While commuting during winter months, Airmen should have an emergency kit in their vehicles in case they are stranded due to adverse weather conditions. The kit should include a flashlight, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, a shovel, an ice scraper, warning devices such as flares, a blanket, food, water, needed medication, a phone and a charger.

According to the CDOT Traction Law, all motorists are required to have one of the following during winter storms or when conditions require:

  • A four or all-wheel drive vehicle and 3/16 inches of tire tread depth.
  • Tires with a mud and snow designation and 3/16 inches tread depth.
  • Winter tires and 3/16 inches tread depth.
  • Tires with all-weather manufacture rating and 3/16 inches tread depth.
  • Tire chains or traction devices.

Failing to abide can lead to a citation of up to $650.

Additionally, Airmen should be aware of stopping distances. For example, while traveling at speeds of 60 miles per hour on snowy pavement with summer tires, the stopping distance is 800-plus feet, with all-season tires it’s 668 feet and with winter tires, the stopping distance is 310 feet, according to CDOT.

“It’s not just you and your family [who] may be affected by poor winter driving habits,” Cook said. “You could be affecting other people and their livelihoods too. Slow down, take it easy and get where you’re going to safely and appropriately.”

If Airmen do not feel safe commuting to work during inclement winter weather or icy roads, they are encouraged to coordinate with their supervisors.