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 December 10, 2010

Safety

Winter weather delivers travel challenges

Whether commuting to work or traveling over the upcoming holidays, less-than-ideal road conditions may be part of the trip.
Fort McCoy’s Automotive Skills Center, building 1763, can help authorized patrons prepare their vehicle for winter. The facility has lift bays, as well as bays for welding, tire changing and individual instruction on privately owned vehicle repair.

John T. Ward, an Automotive Skills Center employee, said among the items to check to help ensure vehicle safety for safe winter driving are battery charge, antifreeze concentration/temperature (to 21-32 below zero), belt conditions, clean air filters, tire pressure and tread levels, and windshield wipers. Oil and windshield cleaner should be changed to winter blends, if applicable.
PHOTO: Sgt. 1st Class Adam Baatz of the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion of the 181st Infantry Brigade replaces a shock and changes oil on his vehicle at the Automotive Skills Center, in preparation for winter driving. Photo by Rob Schuette
Sgt. 1st Class Adam Baatz of the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion of the 181st Infantry Brigade replaces a shock and changes oil on his vehicle at the Automotive Skills Center, in preparation for winter driving. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Travelers must be aware that winter conditions can affect travel plans, said Deb Heise-Clark, a safety specialist with the Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office (ISO).

Road conditions can range anywhere from snow to freezing rain/sleet creating slippery road conditions.

Heise-Clark said strategies to combat these factors include allowing extra time to reach a destination and slowing down.

Motorists also can get valuable information about winter driving conditions for Wisconsin roads by calling “511” or 1-866-511-9472 (WISC) or by visiting the Web site http://511wi.gov.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, planning ahead, driving at a safe and legal speed, driving alert and sober and buckling up can help motorists ensure they make it to their destination safely.

People who travel during the winter should be prepared for the unexpected. Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life and death.

Motorists who must travel during a storm should:

• Plan their travel, selecting both primary and alternate routes.
• Let someone know their travel routes and itinerary so that, if they don’t arrive on time, officials will know where to search.
• Check the latest weather information on the radio.
• Try not to travel alone — two or three people are preferable.
• Travel in a convoy of vehicles, if possible.
• Drive carefully and defensively. Watch for ice patches on bridges and overpasses.
• Take note of the vehicle’s odometer and coordinate/synchronize it with exit numbers, mileposts, or crossroads so in case of a crash or sliding off the road they are better prepared to identify their location and summon law enforcement officers, rescue workers, or tow truck operators more quickly.
• If a storm begins to be too much to handle, seek refuge immediately.
• If your car becomes disabled, stay with the vehicle, running your engine and heater for short intervals. Be sure to “crack” a window in the vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.

Be courteous to those awaiting your arrival:

• Call ahead to your destination just as you are leaving.
• Let someone at your destination know the license number of your vehicle, what route you’ll be traveling, and give a realistic estimate of your travel time.
• If you have a cell phone, give that number to the party at your destination.
• If you have friends or Family at your place of origin, you should call when you arrive to let them know you have arrived safely.
• If road conditions, tiredness, etc., delay or postpone a trip, make a phone call. Let people on both ends know of the delay.
Military personnel, as well as civilians, traveling via vehicle this winter, should consider making a composite risk assessment of the drive.

The travel risk planning system or TRiPS at the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center website https://safety.army.mil can help travelers plan their trips and indicate potential hazards along their routes.

For more information about safety in the Fort McCoy community, visit the Fort McCoy Extranet, which is available through the Fort McCoy Corporate Network or the public website at http://www.mccoy.army.mil or call ISO at 608-388-3403.

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