Many Missourians awoke to find snow falling or in the weather forecast today, says the Patrol, and winter weather calls for drivers to make adjustments.

Photo courtesy Dusty Hoffman

In a press release issued today, the Missouri State Highway Patrol encourages motorists to plan ahead and drive safely or not at all during inclement weather; allow extra driving time for you to reach your destination at a slow, safe speed. Make sure the windows are completely cleared to ensure visibility.

Remember: Missouri law states if you’re using your windshield wipers, your headlights must be turned on. It takes only a second to turn on your vehicle’s headlights. That second could make you more visible to other drivers and prevent a traffic crash.

The Patrol points to state law that states lighted lamps are required “from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise and at any other time when there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.”

Photo courtesy Dusty Hoffman

Troopers also urge motorists to winterize your vehicle if you haven’t already done so by having a mechanic check the battery, heater, defroster, lights, hoses, belts, brakes, oil, tires, wipers, and fluid levels.

“Before you travel, gather an ice scraper, tire chains, battery booster cables, blankets, flashlight, and a bag of sand to place in your trunk,” the Patrol says. “Emergencies cannot be predicted, but planning for them can help you if one should arise. Missouri’s Road Condition Report (1-800-222-6400) can help you plan your route–before you leave. This number gives an automated listing of road conditions throughout the state.” 

Photo courtesy Dusty Hoffman

Safer driving

The Patrol issues the following guidelines:

When inclement weather hits, please adjust how you drive so that you continue to “exercise the highest degree of care”. For instance: Stopping quickly in the winter on snow-covered or icy roads is next to impossible.

Use care by increasing your following distance as you drive.  Increase your following distance to five seconds or more. Section 304.012 RSMo. directs motorists to exercise the highest degree of care on Missouri’s roadways.

This part of Missouri law states, “Every person operating a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.”

Ask yourself if the speed you’re traveling is safe for the weather conditions. Slow down when driving in snow or on ice. Driving the speed limit may not be “exercising the highest degree of care” during inclement weather; driving over the speed limit never is.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is here to serve and protect. If you become stranded or see another vehicle stranded on the side of the road with passengers, please call the Missouri State Highway Patrol emergency number at 1-800-525-5555 or dial *55 on a cellular phone. These numbers ring at the nearest troop headquarters.

Planning ahead and being a courteous driver are important every day.  In winter driving conditions, this becomes crucial. Please slow down, pay attention, and wear your seat belt.