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Police and fire

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Winter Driving Safety

Sgt. Ron Galavez. spokesman for Indiana State Police gives safety tips for winter driving

Icy crashes due to unsafe driving: Slow down

Snowy weather and ice-covered roads do not cause crashes – unsafe driving does, police say.

Winter weather can make driving more difficult, but it’s not fair to point a finger at Mother Nature when your car ends up in a ditch because you were driving too fast, Indiana State Police spokesman Ron Galaviz said.

“A lot of what we’re seeing are slide-offs and crashes, and that’s going back to driving behavior more than anything else,” he said.

Motorists who drive too fast for the road conditions, follow too closely behind other vehicles and multi-task with their phones or the radio instead of focusing on the road ahead top the list of dangerous drivers, Galaviz said.

“The other thing we’re seeing is people over-driving their own abilities,” he said. “There are lots of SUVs out there with four-wheel drive, and it’s a great tool to have, but it has its limitations. Four-wheel drive does not equal four-wheel stop.”

For most drivers, it all comes back to having common sense, Galaviz said.

If weather warnings suggest staying off the roads and you don’t have a reason to be out, then don’t go out, he said.

Indiana Toll Road officials issued a winter weather ban Tuesday night that remains in effect until at least 5 p.m. today.

Triple tractor-trailers, long-doubles, steel haulers and high-profile oversize permit loads are banned from traveling on the toll road during this time.

If you must go out, eliminate the element of surprise by checking the weather, preparing for the worst and driving smart, Galaviz said.

“If we were living in the Florida Keys and getting this amount of snow, that would be a surprise,” Galaviz said. “But we’re living in the Midwest, and between December and March, we shouldn’t be surprised to see snow and ice.”

Hoosiers are also encouraged not to call police agencies for road information during snow emergencies.

“Calling police departments about road conditions may delay action on critical life- emergency 911 calls,” police said.

For updated road conditions, call 800-261-ROAD (7623). For a county travel status map, go online to www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory.

jcrothers@jg.net

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