While witnessing the first legitimate wintry weather of the season last weekend—most of it in the region of Central Virginia—we got a pretty accurate reminder of why it is important to stay off of snowed-over roads unless it is absolutely necessary. When the snow started falling around 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, most residents gave in to the Holiday spirit and welcomed the sight of the falling snow. But by 5:00, the weather had taken its toll on the roads.

In Bedford, a 4-car collision temporarily blocked both lanes on 460. Fortunately there were no deaths involved and the injuries inflicted were all minor. Lynchburg and the Amherst area saw similar accidents, most noticeable on US 29 where at least four multi-vehicle accidents were reported late into Saturday night.

The dangerous driving conditions remained throughout most of Saturday night and Sunday morning as the frigid temperature refused to help matters.

With further severe winter weather already being predicted for the Northeastern part of the nation this weekend, it is important that we all remind ourselves of the most basic of safety precautions while driving in hazardous conditions. First and foremost, stay off of the roads unless it cannot be helped. And if you absolutely must travel in such conditions, make a point to drive at reasonable speeds, often much lower than the posted speed limit. It is also vital that you increase the distance between yourself and any other vehicles. The same is true of approaching stop signs or stop lights; allow yourself ample room to cautiously slow the car.

You may also want to make sure that you have suitable tread on your tires. And while it may seem rather dramatic, you’ll also want to keep a blanket and an emergency first aid kit in your trunk in the event of an accident.

Most importantly, always be looking out for other drivers. Just because you are driving carefully and with great caution does not mean that every other driver on the wintry roads will show the same courtesy.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has recently released a guide entitled Winter Weather May Cause Hazardous Driving Conditions that has more information.

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