William E. Van Tassel: Severe winter weather can be both frightening and dangerous when driving; that's why it's so important to know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies.
Here's what you need to know to stay cautious in adverse weather and prepare for winter driving. Keep your vehicle in peak operating condition and have it inspected before winter hits in full force. Pack a cell phone, blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle in case you get stranded out in the snow.
Watch the weather reports and delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival. On the road keep your gas tank at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze up. Never use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface. Always look and steer where you want to go on what roads.
When driving in snow, be sure to accelerate and decelerate slowly. To help maintain traction and avoid skids, plan your maneuvers well in advance and do one thing at a time; brake, then turn, then accelerate and keep your speed way down.
Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Don't stop if you can avoid it; instead slow your speed and keep your car moving. This can help prevent you from becoming stuck. When you do slowdown, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to brake very gently, squeezing the pedal slowly. If you don't have somewhere you have to be, stay home. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.
So drive cautiously, take it slow and stay alert to stay alive this winter.