by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND COUNTY--The New Year's weekend is right around the corner and if Mother Nature has her way, so are the freezing temperatures. That's why the Texas Department of Transportation is sending out an early warning to motorists, defensive driving starts before you hit the streets and roadways.
"We always have a plan in place, in case there's ice on the roads, to go out and put sand down or salt and clear the roadways," Gene Powell, the new TxDOT Public Information Offer for the Odessa District, said.
Whether it's a trace of ice on your car or a foot of snow on the ground, TXDOT says being a defensive driver is rule number one. That rule should go into effect before you ever leave the house.
"Some of the things you should do, first and foremost, make sure your windshield is clear. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people driving down the road looking through that little strip, because they don't want to get the whole windshield clean," Powell said.
A common practice for all drivers is to take a driver's license or credit card and just scrape part of the windshield, just enough, so you have something to see, or are able to see out of the windshield.
Powell says you should always carry some sort of heavy duty ice scraper in your car and make sure you get every part of the windshield so you have a full field of vision, no matter which way you look, "If the sides are iced over, you can't see cars coming at you from intersections. The back window, especially, so you can see things coming up from behind."
West Texas weather is like a box of Cracker Jacks, there's always a surprise inside. If you don't like what's going on outside now, just wait a few minutes.
According to Powell, "Even in the Panhandle, they've had some snow, already this year."
If you're planning on bringing in the new year somewhere other than West Texas and you know you'll run into snow, Powell says you should remember the old Boy Scout motto, be prepared, "Have blankets in your car. Have a flashlight in your car. Have food and water in your car. Those are the bare minimums."
And speaking of the new year, Powell adds, "If people are drinking and getting behind the wheel, they're putting themselves and others in danger. We just ask, please don't do that."
Should Old Man Winter choose to pay a visit this weekend, TxDOT has an old piece of advice, that bears repeating, "Drinking and driving is never a good idea in perfect conditions. When conditions are bad, it's that much worse."