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You can drive more safely in snowy conditions, but will others?

Welcome to blizzard and black ice season! We've just been slammed with our first big storm, resulting in numerous traffic accidents and at least two deaths. There was a 15-vehicle pileup on I-70, which sadly isn't that unusual in a major snowstorm. Cars slide off the road, large trucks can't brake in time and whether you have all-wheel drive or not, you can easily end up in a crash.

We know this is typical for Colorado, yet no matter how many watches and warnings are issued, road conditions change so rapidly that drivers are caught unaware. One moment the road surface is wet and the next it's glare ice and there's no way to stop. So what can you do to be better prepared? Whether you're a native Coloradoan or this is your first winter on the Front Range, take heart-there are things you can do to navigate more safely.

Slow, slower, slowest

1. Drive more slowly than usual. After you've stopped at a light, accelerate gradually to reach your desired (slower) speed.

2. Don't follow the vehicle ahead of you closely. Widen the distance between you so that you have room to stop, and/or room to maneuver in case that car goes into a skid, turns sideways or simply is stuck right in front of you, wheels spinning, unable to move ahead.

3. When it's getting icy, start to brake earlier, with less force than normal. Think of slowing to a crawl rather than coming to an absolute stop where you might get stuck. If you have manual transmission, use your lower gears to help you slow down.

4. Take extra care on hills: don't try to race up them, only to have your wheels spin, leaving you drifting sideways or backward, unable to get traction. Instead, take a slower approach, gathering momentum that can carry you up and over.

5. Take the slowest approach of all: stay home, or stay where you can watch the storm instead of participating in it. You may be a very safe driver in bad conditions-but can you say the same for the rest of the drivers around you? Nothing is worse than taking all the precautions and being slammed from the side or back by an out-of-control skidding car. Your car will end up in the body shop, and you and your family could be hurt-or worse.

This may be our first major snowstorm of the year, but we all know it won't be the last. If, despite every precaution, you end up in an icy crash, talk to an attorney experienced in motor vehicle accidents.

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