It’s been a particularly snowy fall in Wyoming this year.
We are still two weeks away from Thanksgiving and we’ve already been hit by multiple storms, dropping snow across Wyoming and plunging temperatures below zero. And of course, there is the ever present Wyoming wind, which has made an already cold fall feel even harsher.
That combination of cold, snow and wind can make driving in Wyoming particularly hazardous. The roads are slick, visibility is obscured, and if anything happens, you are stuck waiting in an environment that can be deadly without the proper clothing and gear.
Add to all of that the lengthy commutes that many Wyomingites experience and you have a potentially deadly situation. But what really adds to the danger is something that happens too often in our state: drivers who travel too fast for the conditions.
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Most of us have been there: gripping the steering wheel as you plod through a snowy stretch of highway. And while your speed might be safe, someone else suddenly zips by, kicking up snow and spray that can make winter driving even more difficult. Or how about being tailgated by someone who is driving in the winter like they might on a sunny, clear summer day? It happens all the time.
The results can be deadly. Traveling too fast for the icy conditions can cause drivers to lose control and slide off the highway, or, worse yet, into another vehicle. And it’s been a particularly deadly year on Wyoming roads. There have so far been 134 traffic deaths — 30 more than last year at this time, and the deadliest pace in at least four years.
What’s even more concerning is that we haven’t yet even reached what is traditionally the most dangerous time of year for hazardous road conditions. The snow, the ice and the cold are likely to only get worse from here on out.
And so our message is simple: slow down. Driving faster than the winter conditions dictate puts not only yourself in danger, but also your passengers and other drivers. Remember that driving at a more sensible pace might only cost you a few minutes while significantly increasingly the likelihood that you’ll get there in one piece. Those few minutes saved aren’t worth losing your life.
If visibility is bad, please remember to use your headlights. In whiteout conditions, headlights can make a huge difference and help drivers avoid crashes.
Wyoming’s winter is no joke. Nor is driving in it. This winter, ease off the gas pedal and you’ll increase the odds that you — and others — will make it safely to your destinations.