Record editorial: Winter driving refresher — slow down when the roads are slick
January 10, 2019
This is what Park City is supposed to be like this time of year.
After dismal snowfall last ski season, Mother Nature is smiling upon us once again. Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort have each opened most of their terrain, and the snow kept falling Sunday and Monday in one of the biggest storms of the season so far, totaling more than 20 inches at the bases of the resorts.
While the recent snowstorms have been fantastic for skiers and snowboarders — not to mention everyone who relies on Park City's tourism economy — the fun ends when you get behind the wheel of a car.
The situation on the roads has been downright messy. On Monday, for instance, Utah Highway Patrol reported responding to more than 50 crashes across the state — and that was before 1 p.m. The conditions kept the Summit County Sheriff's Office and Park City Police Department plenty busy, as well, with problems like slide-offs and accidents plaguing local roads.
Troopers statewide have handled 56 crashes today. Spots of icy and slushy roadway are out there in some unexpected places. Please adjust your speed accordingly. Also remember #fenderbendermoveoff the freeway and #slowdownmoveover for emergency vehicles.
— Utah Highway Patrol (@UTHighwayPatrol) January 7, 2019
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The bad news: We shouldn't expect driving conditions to be much better over the next few months. The good news is that the majority of weather-related accidents are entirely preventable.
Excessive speed is the No. 1 cause of winter crashes, according to the UHP. Put simply, the number on the sign doesn't apply when roads are slick; drivers need to slow down significantly. And it doesn't matter how well your Subaru handles in the snow — all-wheel drive isn't going to help when braking or turning. The UHP also notes the importance of drivers increasing their following distance in poor conditions.
For drivers in Summit County, those should be more than suggestions. They are words to live by. It can be tempting to go too fast for the conditions when first chair on the mountain is at stake — or when you're heading for the warmth of home after running errands in the cold — but there's too much at stake to risk it.
At best, driving recklessly in the winter can result in a ruined vacation, a hefty repair bill and a car insurance rate hike. At worst, it can end lives, a tragedy that happens far too often on Utah's roads.
Instead, pay attention to the conditions, slow down and arrive safely. That won't take out all the stress of winter driving, but it will make it easier to enjoy the rest of the fun that a good Park City winter brings.
For more winter driving tips, visit utahwinterdriving.org.
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