Winter weather driving tips from law enforcement

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WAYLAND, Mich. – There are a lot of things you can take for granted when you’re on the road in nasty weather.

FOX 17 got into a police cruiser on Thursday with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department to get some tips about being a safer driver during the winter months.

Sgt. Chris Kuhn, who has worked in law enforcement for nearly two decades, says there are several things you can do before getting behind the wheel that will make a big difference when you hit the road.

Before you even consider driving, it’s important to check the weather conditions – current and forecast – and being prepared for quickly changing conditions, especially in west Michigan.

One of the next best choices you can make, according to Sgt. Kuhn, is having winter tires.

“All-season tires aren’t snow tires,” Kuhn said. “They’re just all-season tires, which means they can drive in the snow if you have to, but they’re not specifically designed to drive in the snow.”

If you’re going to turn on your car and allow it to warm up, Kuhn says that’s a perfect time to clear snow from your windows, head and tail lights, as well as your license plate.

After you begin driving, the speed at which you drive will impact your travel the most.

“Normally, if you have a clean, dry roadway, you’re supposed to have three car lengths between the back of the car in front of you and yourself,” said Kuhn.

During inclement weather, Michigan enforces what’s known as a basic speed law.

“You have to be able to stop in an assured, clear distance when someone stops or has to react to a situation in front of you,” Kuhn explained.

Because the law is vague, officer experience will largely dictate whether you will be pulled over for speeding.

Sgt. Kuhn also recommends what he describes as “extreme defensive driving.”

“You want to make sure that you anticipate what people are doing around you, whether they’re following too closely and making you uncomfortable,” said Kuhn. “Don’t speed up because they’re doing something wrong.”

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