Snowstorm tests central Indiana’s winter driving skills

Data pix.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Monday night’s record snowfall in Indianapolis gave Hoosiers an early reminder about driving safely in winter weather.

Indiana State Police Sergeant John Perrine says central Indiana drivers did pretty well handling the Monday night snow storm. He says ISP responded to 37 crashes and 17 slide offs around Indianapolis in a 24-hour period after the snow started falling.

“Which is a lot for a normal day, but for a snow day is absolutely nothing,” Perrine said.

The accidents that did happen after 2 p.m. Monday are the kind police often see during winter weather events, Perrine said. He stated that most winter-season accidents result from drivers going too fast and following too closely.

“When a car slides off in the ditch, the overwhelming majority of the time, it’s that they were going too fast,” Perrine said. “They couldn’t stop because they were going too fast. Or they couldn’t avoid another vehicle that was slower because they were going too fast.”

While interstates and most major roadways around Indianapolis were in pretty good shape by Tuesday afternoon, Perrine says that should never give you a false sense of security. Many local and neighborhood roads were still coated with ice from packed snow that had frozen in the bitter cold temperatures.

“Your road might be clear, and you might be driving just fine, and then you come into a snow drift or a little bit of snow,” Perrine said. “Could be catastrophic, could cause you to crash and get hurt seriously.”

“You get into a turn lane, get onto a ramp or maybe into an intersection, a bridge that could be icy, and if you’re already going too fast, you’re going to loose control of your car and likely going to crash,” he said.

During winter weather, normal following distances should be increased and drivers should avoid sudden braking, acceleration or steering, Perrine said.

If you car starts to slide on an icy roadway, drivers should avoid the urge to hit the breaks. Perrine said you should take your foot off the gas pedal and smoothly turn into the slide.

“The moment you lock up your brakes, you eliminate your tires from spinning and you’ll spin out,” he said.

If you slide off the roadway and find yourself stuck, Perrine says it’s safest to stay in your car and wait for help.

“If you slid off in that area, there’s a good chance somebody else is going to slide off too,” Perrine said. “And if you’re outside of your car, your chances of getting a serious injury or dying is increased.”

Accidents aren’t the only risk while driving in winter weather. Going too fast could get you a ticket and a fine up to $500, even if you’re driving under the speed limit.

“There is a law that gives police officers discretion on what those road conditions are, what somebody’s speed should be,”  Perrine said.

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