COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with other state and local agencies, is preparing for winter weather and urging motorists to stay off the roadways as much as possible during inclement weather.
Early weather predictions are for the heaviest impact to be in the Midlands and the coastal areas with the possibility of freezing precipitation and snow, which could present dangerous black ice conditions.
During winter weather emergencies, SCDPS will work in conjunction with State Emergency Management Division (EMD) and other state agencies including the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT), State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and others, sharing resources such as four-wheel drive vehicles and personnel.
“We are actively planning to pre-position DPS law enforcement officers and equipment in those areas of the state that may be adversely affected by hazardous weather and have begun disseminating safety information to motorists,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith.
Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver is urging motorists to refrain from driving, when at all possible.
“Some of the most troublesome issues the Highway Patrol sees during inclement weather include: minor collisions involving people losing control of the vehicle, black ice, bridges or overpasses icing before the roadways; motorists travelling too fast for conditions and not leaving enough space between them and other vehicles,” Oliver said.
Col. Oliver and State Transport Police Col. Leroy Taylor say that troopers and officers are prepared for the storm and will be closely monitoring road conditions as they go about their normal duties.
DPS says that being on the roadways – especially with the elderly and children – can be very dangerous and that anyone who must travel needs to be prepared with blankets, water, snacks and flashlights should they become stranded.
Col. Taylor said that the rules for driving around commercial motor vehicles during non-hazardous weather conditions are even more critical when there is a chance of snow and ice on the roads.
“Leave More Space,” Taylor said. “Ensure you are giving large trucks plenty of room to navigate and be aware that they need a much greater stopping distance,” he said. Taylor also cautioned motorists to be aware of large trucks’ blind spots.
During hazardous weather, SCDPS urges motorists to try to limit use of *HP to true emergencies such as reporting collisions or being stranded in a vehicle.
SCDPS winter weather driving tips: http://www.scdps.gov/WinterWeatherDrivingTips2.pdf
How do I get traffic information including road conditions?
The SC Department of Public Safety strongly encourages you to get this information through your local media outlets, which will be sending regular updates on road conditions and other information gleaned from state agencies. For real-time traffic information, consult the Highway Patrol’s web site at http://www.scdps.gov/schp/. For winter road conditions or traffic cameras, consult the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s web site at www.dot.state.sc.us.
What do I do if my car breaks down?
Try to stop well off the roadway. Turn on emergency flashers. Stay inside your vehicle if in a hazardous area (road condition). Call *HP for help or your local law enforcement.
What do I do if I have a minor wreck?
Move vehicles off the roadway if there are no injuries and call local law enforcement agency. In times of inclement weather where the Highway Patrol is experiencing a high volume of calls for service, the response time might be longer.
What do I do if my vehicle begins skidding?
Take your foot off the accelerator. Counter steer: If the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it’s sliding right, steer right. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. 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.
I have to drive to work. What do I need to look out for on the roadways?
Be aware that bridges and overpasses ice before the roadway. Watch for clues of hazardous road conditions ahead; shiny spots, vehicles have trouble staying in control, vehicles off the roadway or emergency vehicles.
What do I need to carry with me if I am travelling in bad weather?
Ensure your cell phone is charged. Let someone know where you are going, what your travel route is and when you expect to arrive. Carry flares, blankets, small tools and a shovel. Bring water and snacks.
How do I get my vehicle ready for winter driving?
Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition before bad weather strikes. Check your vehicle’s tires, brakes, fluids, wiper blades, lights, belts and hoses to make sure they’re in good condition. Before leaving, make sure you’ve cleared the snow off your vehicle’s windows and lights, including brake lights and turn signals. Make sure you can see and be seen.
SCDOT’s web site to check road conditions and traffic cameras: www.dot.state.sc.us
The Highway Patrol’s web site to get real-time traffic information: http://www.scdps.gov/schp/