State Patrol: Motorists need to follow 'common-sense' precautions to meet the challenges of winter driving

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (RELEASE) -- No matter how many Wisconsin winters you’ve experienced, the inescapable onslaught of ice, snow, and limited visibility will make driving extremely challenging and at times impossible.

When roads are slick with ice or snow, drivers needlessly crash or skid off the road because they were driving too fast for conditions. “The posted speed limits, which are set for dry pavement, may be too fast for conditions when roads are snow covered and slippery. The slogan ‘Snow Means Slow’ also applies to four-wheel drive and other heavy-duty vehicles. They usually need just as much distance to stop as other vehicles,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Gerald Voight of the Northwest Region.

A citation for driving too fast for conditions costs $213.10 with four demerit points assessed on the driver’s record, and a second violation within a year costs $263.50 with four points.

Winter weather also can limit visibility, so drivers must remove all frost, ice and snow from their vehicle’s windows. “To see safely in all directions, you need to clear more than just a small patch on a windshield or rear window. Clearing snow and ice from the lights, hood and roof also helps improve visibility and safety,” Captain Voight says.

According to state law, a vehicle’s windshield, side wings, and side and rear windows must be kept clear at all times. Violating this law costs $175.30 with two demerit points, and a second violation within a year costs $213.10 with two points.

During severe winter storms, the safest course of action is stay off roadways completely until conditions improve. “Law enforcement officers frequently respond to vehicles in the ditch and chain-reaction crashes when motorists should not have attempted to travel. Slowed or stalled traffic on slippery roads also delays tow trucks and snowplows, which are trying to get roads cleared, as well as emergency responders,” Captain Voight says.

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