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Our View: Snow storms require defensive driving

Residents of DeKalb County and the rest of northern Illinois were spoiled last winter and the beginning of this one.

Very little snowfall meant clean roads, no worries about school closures or slow commutes, and very little shoveling.

Then the calendar turned to February 2013.

In the past month or so, we haven’t been so fortunate. It seems as if at least once a week, we’ve had to deal with one snow event or another.

Although none of this year’s snowstorms has come close to the Snowmaggedon that shut down much of the state in February 2011, we’ve had to regularly keep our eye on the weather radar, shovel our driveways, and plan for the slow commutes to and from work.

Expect much of the same today. As of Monday night, forecasters were predicting up to or more than 9 inches of snow to fall on northern Illinois. A winter storm warning was in effect until midnight tonight.

Today’s snowstorm could affect both morning and evening rush hours, so be prepared.
Also, wind gusts could reach between 25 and 30 mph this afternoon and into the evening hours, wreaking more havoc on commuters. Sounds like a lot of fun. Or not.

Here are just a few reminders:

• If it’s snowing during your morning or afternoon commutes, turn on your headlights. Increase your visibility to other motorists, and keep your lights and windshield clean.

• Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

• Drive defensively. 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 return the transmission to “drive” and accelerate gently. Steer in the direction you want your wheels to go.

Remember that spring is just around the corner. It might help take the edge off today.

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