Winter Driving Tips
Fond du Lac County Highway Department wants to remind everyone on these safe winter driving tips
As winter season is now upon us, Fond du Lac County officials want to remind the traveling public of the hazards while driving in winter conditions. While both Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department and Highway Department will be out working to keep our highways safe, there are a number of reminders for the traveling public that are vital to everyone’s safety.
- Plan ahead and give yourself extra time when traveling in adverse weather conditions. Wisconsin weather can be unpredictable and you will never know when you will encounter winter weather conditions and treacherous roads. Always wear your seatbelt.
- Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights - even the hood and roof - before driving. Turn on your head lights so you can see and be seen.
- Pay attention. Don't try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement. Remember Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.
- Leave plenty of room for stopping.
- Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows. The law requires you to slow down or move over when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles, including snowplows, parked on the side of the road when they have their flashing lights turned on. If you approach a parked emergency or maintenance vehicle during a winter storm and decide to change lanes be extra careful. The passing lane may be in worse shape than the driving lane. There may also be a snow ridge between the two lanes. Avoid making an abrupt lane change.
- If approaching a snowplow, stay back at least 200 feet it's the law! State Statues 346.915(2)(a)(1.) states “The operator of any vehicle that is not a snowplow may not follow a snowplow closer than the following distances, if the snowplow is engaged in highway winter maintenance snow and ice removal, as described in sub. (1), and is using lamps described in s. 347.26 (7):
1. Two hundred feet upon any highway having a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.
2. Seventy-five feet upon any highway having a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. and don't pass on the right.
- Remember that snowplows make multiple complex moves when performing snow removal operations. Plows will stop periodically in areas of the highway and back up and raise their boxes to shift loads to discharge salt; they may veer off slightly from their normal path to avoid obstructions or vehicles. They are wide and large vehicles that take additional space and to maneuver and turn around. Don’t assume the operator knows that you are traveling behind the snowplow or plow truck. If you can’t see the plow truck’s mirrors then the operator can’t see you and potentially does not even know you are traveling behind him. When encountering a plow truck that is stopped in the highway or at an intersection give plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck and pay attention and don’t assume the operator sees you or that the truck is going to proceed forward down the highway, it may need to back up or go in reverse.
- Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow. Snowplows will typically travel under 35 miles per hour and there is always a temptation to pass them. For your safety, it is recommended that you stay a safe distance behind the snowplows.
- During plowing operations, visibility can be reduced by blowing snow and plow operators may need time to stop or move over to avoid stranded vehicles. Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the plow is very important in order to avoid accidents.
- If you need to pass, allow plenty of room when passing a snowplow. Do not cut back into the lane ahead of the plow too quickly since the blade extends several feet ahead of the truck. Most snowplow trucks are equipped with a "wing plow," an eight-foot or to ten-foot additional plow that extends off the side(s) of the truck. Be aware that the hazard exists.
- When you see an approaching snowplow on an undivided roadway, move as far away from the center line as you safely can since blowing snow may obscure the actual width of the snowplow's blade. Also remember snowplows with their side wings are wide vehicles and have a tendency to hug the centerline so slow down and provide enough room. Do not hug the centerline when approaching a snowplow truck.
- Know the current road conditions. Call 511 or check the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Travel Information web site at the following: http://www.511wi.gov/web/map.aspx?region=winterroads&show=1
- Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
- Watch for slippery bridge decks and on and off ramps. Even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
- Don't use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won't help you stop any faster. Many 4x4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop. Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle's traction. Your 4x4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.
- Do not pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to "stomp and steer!"
- Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.
- Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
- Remember that PUSHING SNOW or other materials onto or across any highways may be illegal and can lead to accidents. When removing snow from your driveways please don’t push the snow back onto the highways or leave windrows across the highway.
- If you have to travel during adverse weather conditions remember to slow down, be patient and allow yourself extra time.
Fond du Lac County Highway Department