What others say: Keep calm, slow down on snow-covered roads

  • Monday, March 21, 2016 9:29pm
  • Opinion

If you think Alaska drivers are experts on the snow, think again.

Saturday’s snowstorm brought several fresh inches of fluffy stuff to the Mat-Su, and in the process unleashed hell on wheels. From the Glenn Highway to Seldon Road, from KGB to the Parks, traffic accidents had emergency responders jumping from scene to scene with shocking regularity as the crashes piled up.

Most of the wrecks were of the fender-bender nature, although a few people were transported to the hospital with minor bumps and bruises. The crashes also caused significant delays for drivers who found themselves trapped behind crash scenes while the roads were cleared.

The storm was a stark reminder of how quickly weather conditions can change in our area. Just a week ago, golfers were jauntily walking the Palmer Golf Course in short sleeves, taking advantage of the course’s earliest ever opening. But the links became a distant memory this weekend as the course was swallowed up in several inches of fresh snow.

The fact there were so many accidents is likely due to drivers’ complacency. Since we haven’t had to deal with bad road conditions all winter, it seems most folks have forgotten the basics of winter driving. So perhaps a quick reminder is in order as Old Man Winter makes his last stand.

First and most importantly, always drive for the road conditions. Just because the speed limit sign says 65 MPH doesn’t mean that’s how fast you should be driving. In fact, when visibility is limited and the roads are icy, drivers should use much slower speeds. Studded tires give some extra traction, but they’re of little use when trying to stop quickly on ice-covered roads. And 4-wheel drive is great for extra control, but it’s far from an excuse to put the pedal to the metal. In fact, it can give drivers a false sense of security and often it’s the bigger 4-wheel-drive trucks that find their way into the ditch.

Always drive with your headlights on, no matter how light it is outside. Although it may seem like they’re not needed to see the roadway, headlights serve the dual purpose of allowing other drivers to see you. Many roads mandate their use at all times, but it’s a good idea to keep them on wherever you go just to be on the safe side.

Next, plan ahead. Many accidents are caused by drivers who are in a hurry to get somewhere — drivers who take chances with all of our lives by trying to save a few minutes on dangerous roads. While we’ve all been late to an important event, there’s nothing that can’t wait. Especially when roads might be bad, please factor in the extra time needed and plan accordingly. You won’t be able to save much time by driving fast, anyway, and it’s a good bet you’ll arrive much later if you end up ditch diving.

Finally, have patience. This means increasing the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you and refraining from aggressive, emotion-based maneuvers. Road rage is a common cause of wrecks and one that’s 100 percent avoidable. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you and please maintain a calm and courteous demeanor while behind the wheel. It’s not just good for other drivers, but it’s a good way to keep from getting too many additional gray hairs. Remember, there’s next to nothing you can do that will alter another driver’s behavior, but you can alter your own.

Although winter is nearly over, it’s not too late to practice safe driving conditions on icy roads. Please be safe out there.

— Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman,

March 19

More in Opinion

No to 67%

Recently, the Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission voted to raise the pay… Continue reading

This image available under the Creative Commons license shows the outline of the state of Alaska filled with the pattern of the state flag.
Opinion: Old models of development are not sustainable for Alaska

Sustainability means investing in keeping Alaska as healthy as possible.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveils proposals to offer public school teachers annual retention bonuses and enact policies restricting discussion of sex and gender in education during a news conference in Anchorage. (Screenshot)
Opinion: As a father and a grandfather, I believe the governor’s proposed laws are anti-family

Now, the discrimination sword is pointing to our gay and transgender friends and families.

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President Nathan Erfurth works in his office on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Now is the time to invest in Kenai Peninsula students

Parents, educators and community members addressed the potential budget cuts with a clear message.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: An accurate portrayal of parental rights isn’t controversial

Affirming and defining parental rights is a matter of respect for the relationship between parent and child

Opinion: When the state values bigotry over the lives of queer kids

It has been a long, difficult week for queer and trans Alaskans like me.

Unsplash / Louis Velazquez
Opinion: Fish, family and freedom… from Big Oil

“Ultimate investment in the status quo” is not what I voted for.

Dr. Sarah Spencer. (Photo by Maureen Todd and courtesy of Dr. Sarah Spencer)
Voices of the Peninsula: Let’s bring opioid addiction treatment to the Alaskans who need it most

This incredibly effective and safe medication has the potential to dramatically increase access to treatment

An orphaned moose calf reared by the author is seen in 1970. (Stephen F. Stringham/courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Maximizing moose productivity on the Kenai Peninsula

Maximum isn’t necessarily optimum, as cattle ranchers learned long ago.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The time has come to stop Eastman’s willful and wanton damage

God in the Bible makes it clear that we are to care for the vulnerable among us.

Caribou graze on the greening tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska in June, 2001. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: AIDEA’s $20 million-and-growing investment looks like a bad bet

Not producing in ANWR could probably generate a lot of money for Alaska.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: King salmon closures long overdue

Returns have progressively gone downhill since the early run was closed in June 2012