As temperatures cool and daylight dwindles, Wisconsin motorists will soon face the seasonal onslaught of ice, snow, and limited visibility that makes driving difficult—if not impossible—at times. To cope with treacherous winter driving conditions, motorists should follow common-sense precautions that will protect them and others on the road.
On ice and snow, far too many drivers crash or skid off the road because they were driving too fast for conditions. “The posted speed limits are for dry pavement, and those speeds may be hazardous when roads are slick from ice and snow. The slogan ‘Snow Means Slow’ also applies to four-wheel drive and other heavy duty vehicles, which need ample distance for stopping on slippery roads, just like other vehicles,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Jeff Frenette of the Northwest Region. “A citation for driving too fast for conditions costs $213.10 with four demerit points assessed on the driver’s record.”
Winter weather also can limit visibility, so drivers must remove all frost, ice and snow from their vehicle’s windows. “Clearing only a small patch on a windshield or rear window is not sufficient. You must be able to see in all directions at all times to avoid crashes. Clearing snow and ice from the lights, hood and roof also helps improve visibility and safety,” Captain Frenette says.
According to state law, a vehicle’s windshield, side wings, and side and rear windows must be kept clear at all times. Violating this law costs $175.30 with two demerit points.
During severe winter storms, the wisest decision often is to stay put and not drive. “Our officers frequently respond to vehicles in the ditch and chain-reaction crashes when motorists really should not have attempted to travel. Slowed or stalled traffic on slippery roads also delays snowplows and tow trucks, which are trying to get the roads cleared,” Captain Frenette says.