Our Opinion: First snowfall packs element of surprise

News Tribune editorial

• “What is wrong with you people. It’s only snow and this happens every year the first time it snows in Missouri — people drive like the roads are dry and get in to accidents. Learn how to slow down and drive with caution.”

• “Slow down and put your cell phone away.”

• “No kidding. Learn to drive! I saw the aftermath of four accidents this morning ...”

Those are among the responses to a breaking news items posted early Tuesday on our Web and Facebook sites as Central Missourians awoke to the first snowfall of the season.

The morning commute resulted in a rash of accidents, largely minor crashes confined to minor injuries and property damage.

Public works officials agreed complications were created by the timing of the snowfall, which arrived prior to predictions and during rush hour. They emphasized budget cuts have not curtailed their ability to clear the roads.

Winter driving is — pardon the phrase — a two-way street.

We rely on city, county and state crews to keep the roadways passable and safe.

But motorists also must do their part.

Readers’ comments to slow down, exercise caution and avoid using cell phones are extremely sensible.

In addition, the Missouri Highway Patrol reminds motorists to:

• Winterize your vehicle by checking the battery, heater, defroster, lights, hoses, belts, crakes, oil, tires, wipers and fluid levels.

• Carry necessary supplies, including an ice scraper, tire chains, battery booster cables, blankets, flashlight and a bag of sand to place in your trunk.

• Plan ahead and remember to switch on your headlights, increase following distance and allow more time to arrive at your destination.

The Missouri Department of Transportation maintains a map of road conditions available at the patrol’s web site. Go to www.mshp. dps,mo.gov, then click the Road Condition icon.

Travelers who become stranded or want to report a stranded vehicle may call the patrol’s emergency number at 1-800-525-5555 or dial *55 on a cell phone.

Central Missouri’s first snowfall of the season will not be the last.

We all can improve our response if we prepare and plan for the winter weather ahead.

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