By Ms. Milena Scheuring, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Public Affairs InternDecember 26, 2018
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - With the weather continuously changing, it is vastly important to pay attention to all components of staying safe on the road throughout winter. Having the proper tires and keeping an eye out for wildlife are two ways drivers can prevent accidents on the road during the icy season.
Because winter road conditions vary and are unpredictable, it is exceedingly important to make sure your car has the correct winter or all-season tires, according to the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Safety Office.
USAG RP Safety Manager Seth Dyer said to buy tires that fit your car and be sure to check for the Alpine symbol - a requirement for tires manufactured after Jan. 1, 2018.
Dyer said it is also very important to check your tire pressure and make sure tires are inflated to the specified air pressure required on the tire or the car's safety manual.
Don't wait until the last minute to put on your winter tires, Dyer said, as this could be extremely dangerous for you and other passengers in your vehicle. German law requires the use of winter tires in icy conditions, so put them on once you notice a drop in temperature. Failure to do so could result in a fine of 40 to 80 euros.
Dyer warned another thing to look out for this winter is wildlife. Drivers should stay cautious of wildlife running across roads, especially when driving in dark or dim lighting. If wildlife runs in front of your vehicle, it is recommended to dim your lights to give the animal an opportunity to regain its vision and leave the road safely.
If you're on a fast road and stopping is not an option, try to minimize the impact on the animal, Dyer said.
"Be very cautious, slow your speed down and don't swerve to avoid hitting the animal," he said. Swerving could lead to loss of vehicle control, which may result in injuries or vehicle damage.
Drivers should report wildlife accidents, whether they hit an animal or see an injured animal on the road. Dyer explained hitting an animal and leaving the scene can result in legal trouble.
Dyer also stressed the importance of preparing for the unexpected.
"To be the safest you can be in the winter, be prepared to break down in cold weather," Dyer said. He offered the following tips:
- Have a reflective vest for every passenger in your vehicle
- Keep a snow shovel and kitty litter, or other substance that can cause traction when stuck in the snow
- Make sure your first aid kit is up to date
- Keep cold weather gear in your vehicle
For more tips on how to stay safe, visit the safety page on the garrison website at https://home.army.mil/rheinland-pfalz/index.php/safety.