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  Director's Message I Message Archive I Biography
HTS Director Pam Fischer

Director's Message
December 2008/January 2009

Pam Fischer
  Winter Driving
  Thank you for visiting the Division of Highway Traffic Safety’s website. Charged with ensuring the safety of all who use our roadways, the Division sponsors public education and awareness campaigns, as well as law enforcement initiatives that address an array of traffic safety issues.

With the winter season upon us, preparing yourself and your vehicle for the challenges of safely diving in snow, ice, sleet and whatever else Mother Nature throws at us is essential. Each year in New Jersey, more than 75,000 crashes occur on snow or ice covered roads, resulting in an average of 10 lives lost and nearly 20,000 injuries. You can protect yourself, your family and others on the road during the winter driving season by ensuring that your vehicle is properly maintained. That includes:

  • tuning up and winterizing your vehicle, and checking antifreeze and fluid levels in the radiator and battery.
  • checking tire treads. More tread equals more traction.
  • checking the windshield, washer fluids and wiper blades, making sure they’re clean and in good working condition.
  • maintaining at least half a tank of gas, to prevent the fuel line from freezing-up.
  Equipping your vehicle with a “personal safety kit,” that is easily accessible in the event of an emergency, is also a must. Your winter emergency kit should include: an ice scraper/brush; a shovel; jumper cables or battery starter; a blanket; sand, salt or cat litter (for traction in ice and snow); a lock de-icer; safety flares/warning devices; a flashlight and new batteries; extra windshield wiper fluid; a cell phone with a spare battery; water and non-perishable food (i.e. granola, protein bars) and, paper towels or a cloth.

While it’s always safest to stay off the road in inclement weather, if you must travel, the following tips will help ensure that you arrive at your destination safely:

  • Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle before driving, especially from the hood, windows and roof. It’s the law in New Jersey. Motorists who fail to do so and cause property damage or injury to others can be cited and fined.
  • Leave ample travel time by departing earlier then usual for your destination.
  • Drive slow (at or below the posted speed limit) and adjust your speed for the changing road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights, using low beams when traveling in snow.
  • Try to stay on main roads, if possible. On multi-lane roads, stay in the lane that has been recently cleared.
  • Remain calm behind the wheel. Nervous, sudden movements and quick turns, lane changes or abrupt speed changes can cause skidding.
  • If you skid, don’t brake and don’t accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid (the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding.) When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.
  • Increase your following distance. In winter weather, travel at least eight to 10 seconds behind the car in front of you.
  • Beware of “black ice.” It often appears to be water, but it’s ice.
  • Slow down before exiting the highway. Exit ramps often have icy patches, sharp curves and stalled or stopped vehicles.
  We hope you find this information helpful as you plan your winter travel. The Division’s web site has a wealth of information on a wide array of traffic safety issues. Be sure to visit our site often since new information is added regularly, and feel free to download the educational materials. Enjoy the winter, stay safe, both on and off the road, and always remember to buckle-up, every ride.
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