Driving on icy roads calls for preparation

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - It may be nice out now, but winter driving is coming and can be tricky. Being prepared for icy conditions can help save lives.

Steve Palmer, Rapid City Department of Transportation Engineering Supervisor, stresses that people should mind their speed on curves.

“Be prepared. We want to stress to everybody that, be prepared in advance with what is coming up. Check the forecast that morning or even the night before. Check the road conditions, call 511 or use Safe Travel U.S.A.,” said Palmer.

Changing road conditions can determine how close you should follow other drivers on the interstate.

“Two-to-three car lengths away is safe. A way you can judge that is a point of contact. When you see, for instance, a roadway sign. When that vehicle passes the sign, count two to three seconds. When you pass that sign within those two to three seconds you are usually pretty good. When the roads start to get slippery, and your visibility decreases, then you want to increase it to about five seconds, which equates to about five car lengths. That way you have ample amount of time to slow down if you need to,” said Paige Erickson, South Dakota State Trooper.

Black ice is transparent and extremely dangerous on the roadways.

“Black ice happens a lot under overpasses and on bridges. So, those are spots that you want to look for because it is in there. If you do hit a patch of black ice, let off the gas. Don’t try and turn the steering wheel, just let your car ride it out and hopefully you find some traction on the other side. That’s another thing don’t drive with your cruise control on if your car hits black ice and your cruise control is on your car thinks it’s sliding and it will accelerate your tires which can cause your car to lose control,” said Erickson.

Alleviating distractions such as using your cell phone will reduce accidents as well.

Both State Trooper Erickson and D-O-T Engineer Palmer agree and stress that you need to know your car because every car reacts differently on ice.