Common sense in bad weather
Jan 22, 2013 | 5821 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Allow me to take a moment to thank our general manager here at the Trib. I was covering a meeting last Tuesday as the winter storm began. She told me to go straight home.

At that time of day, a lot of people were on the roads coming home from work. Travel couldn’t exactly be avoided. By sending me home early, I am convinced she kept me off the roads during the worst conditions. As it was, I passed a major wreck on Interstate-24. Wednesday morning, I found my email filled with accident reports and road advisories.

We were lucky here in Marshall County to have avoided serious injuries. Christian County was far less fortunate. Brooklyn Coleman, just age 4, was killed when she was ejected from her mother’s car. She wasn’t wearing a car seat. My heart goes out to her family.

Now I understand some people absolutely must get out in nasty weather, but if it’s avoidable, my advice: stay home. I drove straight home and told my wife we would be staying in for the evening. I could think of nothing worth the risk of my life or hers. I can’t imagine what would be worth the life of little Brooklyn. I know there are extraordinary circumstances, but stay home, if possible.

Any time people go out driving, but most especially when there is snow or ice, wear a seatbelt. If you have children riding with you, comply with the law and use what car seats are required by law. I’ve read reports of her death in other media, and am convinced she would be alive if her parents used a car seat. Every time I speak to law enforcement about a fatal wreck, they usually tell me a seatbelt could have saved a life.

If you have to get out in freezing rain, sleet, snow or ice, please slow down. Driving home, I found myself driving extremely conservatively, and a good 10 miles per hour below the speed limit. Most other drivers were doing the same. Yet some were driving like it was just an ordinary day.

Once, when I lived in Trigg, and this was before the big ice storm, I decided to go and visit a friend. It was after a small bout of freezing rain, and temperatures were close to 40. The roads were well salted, and appeared, to my uneducated Florida eye, to be safe. Suddenly, the car started to fishtail. I steered in the direction of the skid, and pumped the break, just like they said in driver’s ed. In a full-on skid, my car went over the side of the elevated roadway. I thought I was going to roll, but landed mostly upright. The back bumper was knocked out of whack, and one of my tires blew out. With the help of a wrecker, I was able to drive home, where I should have stayed in the first place.

Remember to allow extra space between your car and the car ahead of you. Both turns and stops may take a little longer or cause slides on icy roads. Consider that main routes often receive plowing and salting more than side roads. Leave early and plan for a routine trip to take a little longer. Be sure your car is in good working order, has plenty of gas and that tires are in good condition. When in doubt, ask your mechanic to ensure your car has no problems that could be a headache later.

It’s a horrible thing to read about a tragic, and possibly preventable death in another community. As news editor, I’ve had to write about my share of tragic deaths and serious injuries right here in Marshall County. It gives me no pleasure. As unpredictable as winter is in Kentucky, we can never assume that last week will be our last winter storm of the year. Above all, please stay home when possible, and use great care and good sense when you absolutely must get out in winter weather. Be safe, and remember that others may not, and the weather is anything but controllable or predictable.
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