Drifty driving

How to be safe during your winter commute

Drivers are facing worsening road conditions as snow begins to fall. Ferris Director of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich advises students to drive slower and keep their vehicles maintained. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau | Torch Photographer

Driving through the fresh white snow isn’t always as safe as it may seem.

Ferris dental hygiene senior Karisa Sharon can speak from experience.

“One time, I was on 131 and it wasn’t extremely bad out, but it was icy. I stopped my vehicle, I pumped my brakes behind a semi and spun out into a ditch,” Sharon said.

Sharon prepares for winter by putting winter tires on her vehicle when the snow starts falling. She advises other drivers to drive slowly, wear their seat belts and give space between themselves and the driver ahead of them.

“The most common accident that we see on campus would be minor accidents in our parking lots,” Ferris Director of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich said. “This can be due to failing to properly clean off or defrost windows due to snow and ice, and for a failure to travel at a speed necessary to maintain control of the vehicle, especially in slippery conditions.”

Borkovich said in almost every accident, excessive speed for conditions was the main cause, whether it involved the at-fault person being unable to control their own car, or a driver who is not at fault, but who may have been able to avoid the accident if they were traveling slower.

Although there may be a speed posted, it does not mean the driver needs to go that fast. Borkovich said traveling five to 10 miles per hour slower can make a big difference.

“Another factor is general vehicle maintenance,” Borkovich said. “Make sure that your tires are not excessively worn, and make sure that they are properly inflated. Also, this is a good time of year to check your brakes and other vehicle suspension systems to ensure that they are in good repair. It is a good idea to replace your windshield wipers once a year, and this time of year, good wipers are really important.”

Ferris automotive management student Davis Kenson said the common mistakes he sees that drivers make are riding their brakes, not using turn signals and being on their phone when driving in the winter.

“You should put your winter [tires] on in the winter and your all-season ones on in the summer,” Kenson said. “Typically, you want to see two seasons on winter tires.”

Kenson said the best way to take care of your car in the winter is to wash it, change the oil, make sure you top off your fluids and warm up your car to optimal temperature before you start driving it.