Safety tips for hazardous road conditions
Before you get in your vehicle
- Be ready to deal with a roadside emergency. Have a full tank of gas, a fully charged mobile phone, warm clothes, a flashlight with fresh batteries, food and water.
- Keep in mind emergency crews might be busy and it could take some time to reach you if you become stranded.
- Decrease your speed. Higher speeds naturally decrease the time you’ll have to react to a problem, in addition to worsening the effects of a collision.
- Increase your distance from other cars. Slick roadways are very unforgiving of sudden braking. Maintain enough distance between your car and the vehicle ahead to avoid a collision if you start to slide.
- Don’t panic if you do start to slide. Gently apply the brake, and if your vehicle begins to slip to one side or the other, turn into the direction of the slide.
- Reduce distractions. Put your phone and other distractions away. Distracted driving is dangerous at any time, but especially when roadways are slick.
- Wear your seat belt. The chances of a collision are much greater during inclement weather.
If your car stalls
- Stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk to safety as you will risk developing hypothermia and/or frostbite.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the vehicle and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear, so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
- As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to help you stay warm.
- Keep one window, away from the blowing wind, slightly open to let in air.
- Leave the overhead light on inside the vehicle when the engine is running so you can be seen.
- After the snow has stopped falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
Source: Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Transportation and Georgia Red Cross
UPDATE at 7 a.m.: After the threat of snow and ice Thursday night into Friday morning, the Georgia Department of Transportation have dispatched crews throughout several counties in Northeast Georgia, including Forsyth, Gwinnett, Dawson, Lumpkin, Hall, Habersham, Towns, Union, Rabun and White Counties.
There has been one report of black ice on Clarks Bridge Road near County Line Road in Hall County, but no other incidents of ice have been reported according to D.O.T. Communications Officer Teri Pope.
“We do want to caution folks, especially in Hall County, that you can’t go hardly anywhere in the county without crossing a bridge. If you can slow down and wait until after daylight to when temperatures start rising to start driving, that would be ideal,” Pope said. “Stay home a bit longer and make sure to pay attention to the road.”
Pope advised that because black ice is difficult to spot, it is important to use caution and reduce your speed when travelling.
Law enforcement agencies urged caution this morning for commuters who might encounter frozen surfaces on area roads after a day of rain was followed by frigid temperatures overnight.
PREVIOUS STORY: A winter weather advisory was issued for Northeast Georgia on Thursday, and though the snow didn’t show throughout the area, what did fall could freeze and make roads dangerous before the sun comes up.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also advised motorists to “use an ounce of prevention” mindset before traveling today.
It planned to send a team to Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County at 3 a.m. to check conditions ahead of the morning commute.
If roads are considered dangerous, Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said people should avoid traveling, though he noted not everyone has that luxury.
“Everybody has to weigh out that decision for themselves. It’s a matter of priorities.” Wilbanks said. “Some people are in an industry or business that is essential. While everybody’s employment is essential, obviously, there are some jobs that people can miss a day and not risk getting in a crash and missing more than just one day.”
By 10 p.m., just over an inch of precipitation had been recorded Thursday at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, but that was all rain, and that ended about 8 p.m. As of 10:15 p.m., Lake Lanier’s water level was at 1,060.81 feet above sea level.
The most dangerous aspect of winter weather can be “black ice,” officials warned, which is neither as visible or beautiful as its fluffy white counterpart.
“Patrolmen are encouraged to keep their eyes on roadways that are notoriously difficult,” Wilbanks said. “Steep hills are one problem area. Bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze, and places around the lake — low-lying areas where cold air pools.”
Wilbanks urged people to notify dispatch when they see those problem spots.
Anyone wishing to report trouble on the roadways this morning should call Hall County dispatch at 770-536-8812, or 911 to report emergencies.
Hall County Road Maintenance personnel prepared spreader trucks and snowplows to deal with any problem areas, officials said. Hall County’s supply of snow- and ice-fighting material, including calcium chloride, or salt, is fully stocked and on hand if needed.
Maintenance crews will be monitoring roads and bridges as the temperature drops and precipitation continues, officials said. Those crews will remain on call until the threat of inclement weather subsides.