Indiana is one of the top ten states for icy road fatalities, according to a study done by IcyRoadSafety.com in 2010. There is almost always snow or ice on the roads at some point during the winter in Indiana. Driving in the snow can be a challenge to many teen drivers, especially if they haven’t driven in poor conditions before. With information taken from the Indiana Department of Transportation’s website and advice from Whiteland Community High School students, teachers and administrators, students driving to school can gain knowledge on how to stay safe in harsh conditions.
The first step a person should take when driving in the winter is to make sure he/she is prepared to drive before leaving. The Indiana Department of Transportation said that safe drivers should check the weather conditions and know their limits when driving in bad weather. INDOT also stated that drivers should clear all the snow off their windows and lights before leaving to make sure they can be seen and others can see them.
Finally, before leaving, drivers need to make sure they give themselves plenty of time to get to their destination. WCHS graduate Kyla Richardson said that she tries to give herself extra time to get to school in the winter.
“Normally I give myself ten minutes, but in the winter I give myself about 15 minutes,” Richardson said.
WCHS Assistant Principal Benji Betts also explained that students should always plan on being early when they get to school.
“You want to be at school about ten to 15 minutes early,” Betts said. “If it usually takes you five minutes to get here, I would make it ten. Just double your time.”
Even when it is snowing, students should not be tardy to their first-period class. Tardies are not excused on a regular basis, and they are not going to be excused when the weather is bad. WCHS social studies teacher Justin Brownfield said that it is an expectation for students to arrive on time.
“I don’t know if we’re necessarily doing any favors or teaching you guys anything by excusing tardies like that,” Brownfield said.
Once on the road, drivers still need to remain cautious in the snow and ice. According to INDOT, drivers aren’t often prepared for winter driving and sometimes forget to take it slow. Drivers need to remember to take their time, drive at or below the speed limit and keep their distance between cars. INDOT said even if a car has four-wheel-drive, the driver should still go slow in the snow.
Brownfield explained that his advice to students driving in the winter is to remain cautious.
“Just take your time and realize that there’s snow and ice on the ground,” Brownfield said. “Don’t follow too close behind people.”
A common problem that drivers may notice when driving through snow is sliding. INDOT said that drivers should avoid sudden movements and should brake slowly to prevent sliding. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office also said that slowing down before turning can prevent sliding. WCHS senior Brian Abercrombie explained what to do if someone does start to slide.
“Don’t accelerate and don’t hit the brakes. Just let go and let it slide and try to control it,” Abercrombie said.
Betts also said that an important thing to do if you start to spin or slide is to not over-correct.
“You don’t want to over-correct because then you’re going to slide the other way really bad,” Betts said. “Just slow down, calm down and take your time.”
Driving in the snow can be scary. As long as students stay cautious and slow down, they should get to school safely. INDOT’s motto that drivers should always remember is “Ice and Snow, Take It Slow!”