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Drivers advised to exercise caution to prevent accidents

Sun Advocate reporter

A fender bender near the Price east interchange on U.S. Highway 6 resulted in delayed traffic, but no injuries on Dec. 28. It is one of the first traffic mishaps of the winter season, but many more accidents are expected.

As the weather begins to decline, Carbon County motorists are encountering dangerous conditions on the roads. In fact, winter is the most difficult driving season, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. Motorists not only have to deal with snow and ice, but there are also fewer hours of daylight.

Traffic accidents are a major cause of injury and death in the United States. The public safety department reports that there have been more fatalities due to traffic crashes in the United States than in all of the American wars combined.

However, the public safety department asserts that winter accidents can not only be prevented, but that the chances of an accident occurring can also be predicted.

"Injury prevention specialists share a goal to eliminate the use of the word 'accident' from the vocabulary of unintentional injury," pointed out the safety department. "Continued use of the word accident promotes the concept that these events are outside the scope of human influence or control. Unintentional injuries and crashes are predictable results of specific actions. We can identify their causes and take action to avoid them through injury prevention education and programs."

The Utah Department of Public Safety recommends complying with the following crash-prevention tips before Carbon County residents set out on winter roads.

•Motorists should scrape and/or defrost the snow and frost from the windows before driving.

Clear all snow and ice from the hood, roof, trunk, turn signal lights, tail and headlights, mirrors and fenders.

•Utah law requires the use of seat belts.

Always wear seat belts and assure that all children are correctly fastened into a child safety seat.

•Drivers should set the vehicle's rear view mirrors correctly.

�Motorists should check tires for proper air pressure and tread.

•Replace head lamps as needed.

�Do not drink and drive.

�Do not eat and drive.

�Do not drive while drowsy.

�Plan the route and be familiar with the maps/directions to avoid confusion.

�Check the weather reports and adjust starting time accordingly.

�Inform others of the route and expected time of arrival.

�Always fill the gasoline tank before entering open country, even for a short distance, and stop to fill-up long before the tank begins to run low. Keeping the gas tank as full as possible will minimize condensation.

�Drive with extra caution. Start slow and easy from a stop and steer smoothly. No abrupt turning, braking or accelerating.

�Increase following distance. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as that which is needed to brake under normal driving circumstances.

�Drive slower than the posted speed limit; remember that it is calculated for ideal weather conditions.

�Cars have better visibility using the low beams when driving in a snow storm or fog.

�Use extra caution when driving on bridges, overpasses, tunnels, or areas without direct sunlight. Those areas often have black ice - a thin clear layer of ice which allows the dark underlying road surface to show through - thus its name. Black ice forms when the temperature is around (even slightly above) freezing and the road is wet from high humidity, fog, or daytime snow melt. Signs of black ice include shiny road surface or when spray from the tires of other vehicles is no longer visible but the road still looks wet.

�All motorists should know the vehicle's brakes. The owner's manual will provide information about the braking system. Find out which type of brakes the vehicle has and adhere to the applicable the safety steps for cars with and without ant-lock braking.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) offer significant advantages on slick roads, if used correctly. To operate ABS effectively, apply steady pressure to the brake pedal during the entire stop. ABS will automatically pump the brakes, if necessary, to keep the wheels from locking. Never manually pump ABS brakes. Apply only steady pressure continuously until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.

For vehicles without ABS, motorists should gently apply pumping pressure to the brakes during slippery conditions. Do not apply steady pressure to the brakes. Standing on the brakes will only cause wheel lock, and may result in the car spinning out of control.

�Handling skids will depend upon whether the vehicle is front of rear wheel drive.

In a front wheel drive vehicle that has begun to skid, drivers should slowly remove their foot from the accelerator until they feel the wheels regain traction control. Drivers should not attempt to brake. As the vehicle's tires grab the road, slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction drivers want the front wheels to go.

In a rear wheel drive automobile that has begun to spin, remove foot from the gas pedal and slowly steer in the direction the car needs to go. If motorists are still skidding out of control, counter-steer until the vehicle is pointing in the right direction. Never apply steady pressure to the brakes.

�Drivers should maintain winter driving techniques and caution even when roads appear clear. For those driving SUVs or 4-wheel drive vehicles, remember that these vehicles react to ice just like any other vehicle. Overconfidence in the vehicle's abilities can lead to serious problems.

With the New Year approaching, the chances of drivers on the road who are under the influence of alcohol also increases. According to Price City Police Chief Aleck Shilaos, the department will be running a full crew on normal shifts for the holiday.

Carbon County residents celebrating the holiday should always arrange for a designated driver if they are consuming alcohol. Conviction for committting a class B misdemeanor DUI offense can result in six months in jail, forfeiture of drivers license and a maximum fine plus fees totaling $1,850.

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