EDITORIAL: Driving in the snow   

by Jan 12, 2015OPINIONS0 comments






As we move deeper into the winter, driving will become more hazardous and we each must take proper precautions to ensure safety on the roadways.

After the latest artic plunge last week, my mind went to wintery days when big flakes of snow accumulated on our mountains. There is no place like Cherokee, especially when snow blankets our Boundary. With the beauty, comes a need for care. It is not just the scenic landscapes that get blanketed with snow. The roads and walkways are also covered with a slippery mix of melting snow and ice.

Tribal government, state and local crews have done an amazing job in recent years of providing quick response to snow and ice on the roadways. Road surfaces are prepared with chemical mixtures designed to minimize the impact of precipitation in advance of oncoming storms. The armies of workers battle any snow event with plow trucks. Thousands of gallons and pounds of anti-freezing agents are spread on the highways. They begin with most travelled roads, ensuring that medical and other emergency vehicles have access to hospitals and shelters. Then, they plunge into making secondary roads safe for travel. Sometimes, depending on temperature and wind, even this huge force of workers cannot keep up with the storms.

Before the snow is forecasted, check tires for proper inflation and tread depth. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and that you use washer fluid that will not freeze. Check your engine hoses and belts. Confirm that your antifreeze levels are correct and provide the proper level of protection for winter in Cherokee. Take the precaution of having an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes essentials for keeping you safe in the event you are stranded for a short length of time.

For the safety of yourself and others, it is important to acknowledge that your driving practices must change to accommodate for snow and icy weather. Ice and snow may cause a vehicle to need additional stopping distance, so you should increase the amount of space between your car and the car you are following. Snow reduces visibility and ice can quickly form on windshield to further impair vision.  Know the limitations of your vehicle and be knowledgeable of how your vehicle may respond differently on ice. Some secondary roads in the mountains will be impossible to navigate in a rear-wheel drive vehicle during snow events.

By being properly equipped and using care when driving, you may get out and enjoy the beauty of the Qualla Boundary during snowfalls. The mountains offer up incredible scenery from snowcapped mountains to the ice glazed streams. With the right gear, the possibilities of your winter experience in Cherokee are endless.