Drivers have had nearly a month to relearn their winter driving behaviors with plenty of snow and ice to deal with. As typically is seen when winter reintroduces itself to our area, the West Fargo Police Department responded to a flurry of motor vehicle crashes following the first snow fall. Drivers have since made the adjustments to their driving skills for the winter conditions and the number of crashes tapered off. The hyper vigilance drivers are experiencing now will soon give way to a more relaxed driving, and crash numbers will again go up.
There are several problem areas in the community where you need to pay special attention. Snow piled along drives and at intersections hides smaller vehicles and pedestrians from a driver's view. Frequently, a driver will only see a small portion of a person or vehicle before it enters their path. Be extra cautious where the snow obstructs your view.
Pavement conditions vary greatly throughout the community. Bare pavement, sand, ice or compacted snow can all be present upon the roadway and all in the same area. Continue to monitor the road surface and select the best driving area. The city crews apply deicer at intersections and at locations near midblock to help improve traction. Don't become dependent upon this practice as various weather conditions can dramatically affect driving conditions.
Frigid temperatures followed by warming temperatures create a condition often referred to as black ice. What actually is occurring is the formation of frost on the cold road surface as the warmer moist air passes over it. The warmth of vehicle tires transforms the frost to a thin layer of ice resulting in a very slippery surface where it appears to be dry pavement. Be aware that changing temperatures can mean slippery roads.
The salts, chemicals and sand applied to the road can also create slippery conditions. As the snow and ice break down, a slushy mixture can develop. The slush not only clings to your car but can build up between your tires and the road decreasing traction between the tire and the pavement.
On bright, sunny days we can experience wind conditions which generate drifting snow or ground blizzard conditions. The resulting reduced visibility only worsens the obstructed view created by piled snow. The use of headlights or driving lights can draw the attention of other drivers to the presence of your vehicle. Get in the habit of turning on your lights whenever you drive.
Winter driving requires you to decrease your speed and increase your stopping distance. Remain vigilant to the constantly changing conditions and watch for the unexpected. Enjoy a safe winter season.