Traffic safety officials want drivers to be prepared for the winter storm that is expected Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Rain, snow, and wind are in the forecast, likely to make any driving difficult.
“If it’s not urgent, stay home,” Rhonda Taft, traffic safety and licensing program director at Southeast Community College, tells Nebraska Radio Network.
She says blowing snow will make driving dangerous, and can make a road you drive everyday unrecognizable.
“So you want to pick your routes and try to avoid areas where the roads are wide open and a sheet of ice with nothing to stop the wind or the snow,” Taft advises.
You also need to increase your following distance and control your position on the road.
“So that if anything goes wrong, you have some place to steer toward,” she explains. “Whether that’s the ditch or the curb, something that gets you out of the path of danger.”
She says if you do have trouble, stay with your car, but you also need to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
“You actually need to crack a window open, just a little bit,” Taft says, “and then probably every hour, run the car for about five minutes.”
The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) also advises against driving in the worst of the weather.
Troopers say using up-to-date traffic information from Nebraska 511, online or via the mobile app, will help.
NSP also issues the following reminders for motorists traveling in extreme weather conditions:
- Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.
- Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when absolutely necessary.
- If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Let others know where you are going, your route, and when you will arrive.
- If you do become stranded while traveling, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Wind chill and freezing temperatures can be life threatening.
- If your vehicle becomes stuck, run your motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Carry a red flag or bandana in your car and attach it to the outside to signal for help.
NSP suggests basic items to carry in your vehicle are: First Aid Kit, phone charger, ice scraper, shovel, small bag of sand, flashlight with extra batteries, blankets or sleeping bags, extra clothing and winter accessories, jumper cables, tow rope, tool kit, matches, candles, red flag or bandana, high energy or dehydrated foods, and bottled water.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:44]