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Authorities offer winter driving tips

With reports of morning traffic accidents and the potential for more problems during the evening commute, law enforcement agencies in Kane County are reminding motorists to drive with caution.

"I want to stress to people that there is a potential that the evening drive home will be a problem, and people need to plan way ahead to make sure they know what the conditions are depending on where they are going," Lt. Pat Gengler, the spokesman for the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, said in an email.

"Often times road conditions in urban areas are fine, but as soon as you get west of Randall [Road] they are completely different."

Even with a light morning commute, St. Charles Police Department spokesman Paul McCurtain said four accidents were reported after the snow began falling early this morning.

He and Gengler offered these winter driving tips:

• Have a full tank of gas.

• Dress to be in the weather. You could wind up outside if you get stuck.

• Charge your cellphone before you leave.

• Tell someone where you are going and your expected route.

• If you get stuck in a snowbank, open a car window to help protect against carbon monoxide buildup in the car.

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.

• The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds.

• Don't stop if you can avoid it.

• Don't power up hills. Try to get some inertia going before reaching a hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. At the crest, reduce speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.

• Don't stop going up a hill.

• Stay home if you don't have to go out, even if you can drive well in the snow because not everyone else can.

Until streets are cleared in St. Charles, vehicles should not be parked on any streets designated as a snow route when snow accumulation is at least two inches, McCurtain said. He said this allows for the swift clearing of city streets, which makes traveling safer.

City snow plows are out in force during the storm, McCurtain said, and motorists should give them plenty of room to do their jobs.

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