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RISMEDIA, December 28, 2010—(MCT)—As the East Coast digs out of its first major winter storm of the season, here are five questions and answers on driving safely in the snow.

With cold, snow and ice, come auto accidents. But there are basic steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of crashes, says the commanding officer of the Precision Driving Unit of the Michigan State Police. Here are five questions with Lt. Keith Wilson:

Q: How much should drivers slow down?

A: There is no one answer. It depends on the vehicle, the road conditions, the driver’s abilities and experience. But there are factors to consider. Can my vehicle stop at any point in time if it needs to avoid something ahead? Can I make the turn I need to make? Drivers need to plan further ahead. Slowing down enables them to analyze the situation more.

Q: What else should drivers do in addition to slowing down?

A: Make sure their tires are inflated to the proper inflation level. Make sure all lights are clean and visible to oncoming as well as following traffic. Make sure wipers are in good shape and you have adequate fluid for keeping the windshield clear. Brush all snow off the windows. Don’t clean just enough for your eyes to peak through. Not only is that not sufficient, but it’s against the law. Keep your car clean so it is visible. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you’re not pressed for time and you’re less likely to take chances and go faster than you should. And, as always make sure your brakes are working properly.

Q: Speaking of brakes, should you pump your brakes when trying to stop on snow or ice?

A: You should know your car. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should not pump your brakes. You should hold your pedal to the floor until your vehicle stops. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, you should gently pump or modulate your brakes to slow your vehicle to a stop.

Q: Is there such a thing as going too slow in bad weather?

A: State law dictates that drivers reduce speed to adjust to weather conditions, but there is no legal limit as far as going too slow. If you are going slower than most traffic, always stay to the right, so drivers can pass on the left.

Q: What do you say to those drivers who zoom by regardless of the weather conditions?

A: It’s usually those drivers who lose control and cause crashes. They are taking extra risks and putting others at risk when they’re not using good judgment.

(c) 2010, Detroit Free Press.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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