Troopers say first couple snows always take drivers by surprise

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – It didn’t take long Tuesday morning for drivers to realize winter had arrived, with snow and black ice making for some very slippery conditions and a number of accidents.

Most of the crashes, like some along Route 11 near 224 in Canfield, involved drivers sliding off the road. But there were also some, like one on Market Street in Boardman, where cars slid into each other.

Troopers said the early winter conditions can catch drivers by surprise if they’re not careful.

“Everybody forgets how to drive in the snow so it takes that first snow or two for everybody to remember,” said Lt. Jerad Sutton, with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The biggest factor is people driving and reacting as though the roads were still clear and dry.

“They travel at the same speed that they do whenever the roads were dry whenever the roads are snow-covered. So it’s that speed for conditions that they don’t take into account,” Sutton said.

Troopers also suggest avoiding using cruise control in icy conditions since your car won’t adjust as the pavement changes from a dry highway surface to one that’s snow-covered and slippery.

“When it snows, you need to slow down. You need to leave more distance to stop,” Sutton said.

Even if your vehicle has four-wheel drive, Sutton said it’s not foolproof.

“It gets you going good, keeps you in your lane very well but your stopping distance doesn’t change.”

Experts also suggest making sure your car is well-maintained to avoid mechanical problems on the road.

Winter Car Care Checklist

  • Battery and charging system
  • Battery cables and terminals
  • Drive belts
  • Engine hoses
  • Tire type and tread
  • Tire pressure
  • Air filter
  • Coolant levels
  • Lights
  • Wiper blades
  • Washer fluid
  • Brakes
  • Transmission, brake and power steering fluids

It’s a good idea to have emergency supplies in your car or truck, like blankets and a first aid kit, in case you’re stuck somewhere, waiting for a tow truck.

Emergency Road Kit

  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Blankets
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Drinking water
  • Nonperishable snacks for human and pet passengers
  • First aid kit
  • Basic tool kit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Car cell phone charger (make sure your phone has important phone numbers of family members and emergency services)

“AAA sells a kit that you can get that has some flares in it, has jumper cables, those type of things,” Sutton said.

Because we’ll likely see worsening road conditions between now and next spring.

Between December 2016 and March 2017, there were 183 crashes in Columbiana County, 332 in Mahoning County, and 357 in Trumbull County.