Winter is a beautiful time of the year in Rhode Island, especially when a fresh layer of new snow covers everything. Winter can also be a very dangerous time of the year. If you plan on traveling during the winter, it pays to prepare your vehicle for winter driving, including having winter car supplies. Just following some simple safe driving tips and using common sense while driving near snow plows could ensure that you make it to your destination safely. However, be prepared for the unexpected. Below are some tips and useful resources so you'll know what to do in case you're stranded or in an accident.
If you are in need of assistance with clearing snow, call a neighbor to see if they can help. You may also call United Way of Rhode Island by dialing 2-1-1 anytime for help.
If you are experiencing an emergency that requires police, fire, or medical assistance, dial 9-1-1 on your mobile phone to contact the closest State Police barracks.
The Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) have joined together to develop a registry for Rhode Islanders with disabilities, chronic conditions, and other special health care needs. This system is designed to identify individuals who may require special assistance during emergencies. Enrollment in the Registry does not guarantee assistance, but allows first responders to appropriately plan for, prepare for, and respond to the needs of the community. For more information or to enroll, visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website.
Driving a motor vehicle with any significant amounts of snow or ice on the vehicle is against the law (R.I.G.L. § 31-23-16). Clear all snow and ice off the entire car including the roof, hood, trunk, and license plates. Also, all glass surfaces and lights should be clear and transparent. This includes your windows, side-view mirrors, headlights and tail lights.
If your rear wheels skid...
Take your foot off the accelerator.
Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.
If your front wheels skid...
Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If your vehicle becomes stuck or you are snow-bound...
Pull off the highway or move as close to the side of the roadway as possible.
Stay in your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter, makes it easier for rescuers to locate you, and is easier for other motorists to see (versus you walking outside of your car, where you could be hit).
Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending on the amount of gas in the tank.
Turn on the dome light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
Call 9-1-1. Describe your location and immediately report any injuries.