Officials Remind Residents to Review Transportation Safety Measures as Cold Weather Hits VT


Motion Blur of Car
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather warning for the Rutland area, with readings falling to “far below zero,” according to the Rutland Herald.

As of this article’s writing, the current temperature was -5, with wind chill bringing that figure down to -16 degrees. Temperatures will rise slightly in the next few days according to the latest forecast, but the area is expected to remain cold and snowy.

Vermont isn’t the only place feeling the effects of the current conditions. The BBC has reported that “Temperatures across much of the northern and eastern U.S. are plunging to ‘dangerously cold’ levels,” with winter weather warnings being issued in 17 states.

Temperatures were forecasted to drop to -44 degrees in Fargo, ND, and schools closed in Chicago due to -28 degree weather.

With such weather in the forecast not only in Rutland but across the nation, this is a good time of year to review some cold weather-related transportation concerns.

Smart Vehicle Moves
If they haven’t already done so, all drivers should check the tread depth of their tires. In general, tires should have a tread depth of no less than 2/32 of an inch, the standard for the common “penny test.” But in order to deal with snow, 6/32 of an inch is more appropriate.

Any drivers who can afford a second set of tires should consider separate snow tires.

And since snow and ice already interfere with braking, it’s important to make sure all vehicles’ braking systems have been appropriately serviced. If brake pads are thinner than 1/8 of an inch, they need to be replaced immediately. Brake fluid levels should also be checked.

Electric and Battery Concerns
Batteries often struggle in the winter, and it’s a good idea to get the charge capacity of a battery checked by an auto center (a relatively low-cost service).

Kevin B. Jones, a professor of energy technology and policy at Vermont Law School, wrote for the Rutland Herald that the new year is a “good time to plug in” and consider electric vehicles. “In the Northeast, the plug-in electric hybrid or all-battery electric car (the EV) is the cleanest car on the road,” he wrote.

People with electric cars may need to plug in more often in extreme temperatures, however. AAA found last year that the range of an EV could be cut by up to 57% in very cold weather, and drivers should plan carefully to ensure they don’t get stuck without a charge.

Preparing for the Worst
In case they do get stranded while in transit, all drivers should maintain emergency kits in their vehicles.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security issued a statement Jan. 7 recommending that all drivers stock a kit with “blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshield scraper and brush, shovel, sand, towrope and jumper cables.”

Gas tanks should always be kept at least half full, the division said, so that the car’s heater can remain on until help arrives.


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