We're Southerners, right? Coastal Southerners at that. We own beach towels, not snow tires.
So as winter weather bears down on the Lowcountry, it's best to avoid driving in icy conditions altogether. Of course, sometimes that's unavoidable, so here are some cold-weather safe-driving tips from the S.C. Department of Public Safety and State Farm Insurance.
- Check road conditions before driving: Real-time traffic information can be found on the S.C. Highway Patrol's website at www.scdps.gov/schp. Updates will also be posted frequently at islandpacket.com and beaufortgazette.com. Road condition information and traffic cameras can be found on the S.C. Department of Transportation's website at www.dot.state.sc.us and at islandpacket.com/traffic.
- Pack an emergency kit: Include basic items, such as warning flares and extra antifreeze or wiper fluid, as well as winter items, such as an ice scraper, brush, a small shovel and a bag of road salt or cat litter to help clear off your car or extricate it if it's stuck.
- Drive safe: Avoid speeding or using cruise control on icy roads. Leave more space and allow more time for braking. If you start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator, steer into the skid and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If your car has standard brakes, pump them gently as you skid. Car owners with anti-lock brakes should apply steady pressure, as the ABS will pulse them.
- In the event of an accident or breakdown: Stop your car well off the road or move vehicles involved in a minor accident off the road. Turn on emergency flashers or light flares. Stay inside the vehicle. Dial *HP for the Highway Patrol or 911 for local law enforcement. In the event of an extended stay outside waiting for help, make sure to stay hydrated and keep body heat by exercising a little. Running the engine about 10 minutes each hour should keep the car warm, but the exhaust pipe should be checked to make sure it's open to prevent carbon-monoxide buildup.