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Please drive safe this winter

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, I continue to be thankful for the wonderful fall weather we have enjoyed. However, like it or not, winter weather will soon be upon us. That means winter weather driving conditions. The Weather Channel website lists several tips regarding winter travel and safety. I have borrowed a few for you to review and consider. By following these suggestions, you can help insure safe winter travels.

Winter Driving Safety Tips:

• Make sure you and your car are properly equipped.

• Make sure your car has ample antifreeze, the windshield is clean and you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.

• Check to make sure the headlights are clean and in working order.

• Verify that the tires have tread and are properly inflated.

• Have your battery tested.

• Equip your car with a flashlight, a first aid kit, warm clothes and a blanket.

• Remember to have sunglasses in the car, as the glare of the sun off snow and ice can be intense.

• Remember your cell phone to call for emergency assistance if needed.

• Slow down and drive smoothly. Driving too quickly is the main cause of accidents in winter conditions.

• Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and unnecessary lane changes.

• Four-wheel-drive may help your vehicle get going in the slushy stuff, but it is of no use when you are trying to steer or safely stop on a slippery road surface.

• Do not tailgate. Tailgating often leads to accidents, especially if you are driving in stop-and-go traffic.

• Be patient and stay well behind the driver in front of you until it is safe to pass. It is important to remember that it takes a much longer distance to stop your vehicle in the snow or ice, even with just a light covering on the road.

• Do not use cruise control. Using cruise control in the snow, ice or even rain is dangerous because if your car hydroplanes or skids, the car can accelerate and spin the wheels, attempting to maintain a constant speed. If you hydroplane with cruise control on, it will be more likely that you lose control of your vehicle.

• Pull over or stay home. Remember, there is no shame in making the logical decision to stay in when the conditions are bad. You may be late arriving to your destination, but arriving late in one piece is much better than the alternative.

Speaking of winter driving, it is also time to think about snow removal operations and how the city will enforce the snow route ordinance.

Marshalltown has approximately 25 miles of emergency snow routes. These emergency snow routes are plowed before any other streets in town.

The snow emergency route system allows emergency vehicles to have avenues of access to homes and businesses throughout the City. These are truly emergency routes to keep essential services functioning after major snowfalls that would otherwise paralyze a city.

Emergency snow route regulations require no parking on any street designated as an “Emergency Snow Route” until the snow has been plowed from such street. The red, white and blue snow route signs mark the designated snow routes.

Our street superintendent starts snow removal operations when approximately two inches have fallen. Upon two inches of snow accumulation, the no parking ban automatically goes into effect. This is simply the most effective way to keep vehicles off the street. The Police Department will identify illegally parked vehicles on the emergency snow routes and begin ticketing and towing operations.

It is much faster and easier to plow the streets if there are no vehicles on the street. If possible, park your vehicle in your drive until your street has been plowed — even if your street is not designated as a snow route.

Illegally parked cars may be ticketed and towed. The parking fine of $30 plus towing fees can easily be avoided by moving your vehicle as soon as it starts snowing or before the storm when snow is forecasted. Illegally parked vehicles slow down the operations and in some cases may prevent plows from cleaning streets.

If it is snowing, assume a snow emergency will be declared and move your vehicles to off street parking. When a snow emergency is declared, immediately move your parked vehicle off the emergency snow route. Sign up for snow ordinance notification emails and text messages through the city website at https://www.marshalltown-ia.gov/list.aspx.

Through cooperative efforts between the residents of Marshalltown and the dedicated employees of the Marshalltown Public Works Department, the streets will be plowed quickly making winter travel within the city safer for everyone.

For information on snow plowing operations or to report street conditions call 641-754-5734 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 641-754-5725 after hours and on Saturday and Sunday.

——

Mike Tupper is the Marshalltown Chief of Police.

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