Don’t ditch those winter driving habits
WORTHINGTON — It may be hard to imagine right now, but soon, green grass will sprout, ice will slowly start to melt and the roads will clear.
One may be tempted to speed down the road a little faster or, because of the nicer temperatures, skip a routine maintenance look at your vehicle — but think twice before ditching those winter driving habits.
“Everyone thinks that winter brings on more total crashes, but when those roads clear up and spring arrives, it’s actually in the spring and summer months that bring the most accidents,” said Sergeant Jacalyn Sticha of the Minnesota State Patrol.
The total fatal vehicle crashes in 2012 in the state broken down per month showed fewer fatal crashes during the winter months than during spring and summer.
“In January there were 18 fatal crashes and in February there were 25, but jump to June and there were 37 fatal crashes and in August there were 38; even into September there were 41 fatal crashes, but then it starts to decline again as winter approaches,” Sticha explained.
“Speed is a leading contributing factor in these fatality crashes,” she added. “Take the same type of crash, but add an increased speed — it can lead to a fatality, because speed increases force.”
In addition to speeding, seat belt usage is another area that law enforcement will be looking at.
May mobilization is a large scale enforcement campaign across the state with over 400 law enforcement agencies focusing on seatbelt use working towards zero death (TZD).
“May mobilization is through the states TZD program and all departments who participate in it are granted money from the state to have extra law enforcement from May 19th to June 1st for our May click it or ticket seat belt mobilization,” said Sticha.
“It’s not only in May, almost every month there are what is known as TZD waves, where officers will be looking for other things such as distracted driving or speeding,” added Sticha.
The TZD program is a statewide program that provides technical assistance, materials and guidance to local groups that are committed to reducing crashes and the fatalities and severe injuries that result from them.
“As of right now our TZD coordinator, Josh McCuen, has everything in motion to get hours from the state for extra officers on duty,” said Sergeant Brett Wiltrout of the Worthington Police Department.
From March 21st through the 30th there will be a TZD wave, during which extra law enforcement will be on the lookout for seat belt usage. There will be another TZD wave from April 11th to 20th, during which officers will focus on distracted driving.
“We normally have between one to three extra officers who will work during those times,” said Wiltrout. “So we’ll have about three officers responding to calls and then a few officers watching out for seat belt usage, for example.”
Warmer weather approaches, and soon it will be time for vehicles to get a break after taking the brunt of the brutal weather. However, law enforcement continues to remind people to check their vehicles over.
“With the temperatures falling and rising drastically, people need to be aware of their tire pressure or because of the extreme cold there could be a crack in the valve stem,” Sticha said. She offered one final piece of advice for spring driving.
“Even though the bad weather may be on its way out, people should still use good winter driving skills throughout the year.”
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.