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Gov. Tomlin column: Drive safe and smart during the winter season

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

CHARLESTON, W.Va — Across the Mountain State, winter weather is quickly approaching. Whether you are someone who dreads cold mornings and frosty nights, or you love the cheer and chill that comes with a new snowfall, the season will arrive with or without our approval. As we linger in this mixed time of warm days and cold nights, it is important to prepare for the winter months that lie ahead and remember to drive safe and smart this season. 

We must remember that our normal driving routines and practices should always be adjusted to take into account wintry road conditions. In the coming weeks and months, especially during holiday travel, be sure to obey speed limits and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, especially if you come across any form of inclement weather. 

The West Virginia Division of Highways road crews work hard to prevent icy roads; however, these conditions may not always be immediately visible to the naked eye. Under the right circumstances, moisture can freeze on highways long after the fall of snow or rain. In addition, both large and small bridges are especially prone to ice because cold winds continually circulate beneath and around them.

Don’t forget to adjust your speed according to the road conditions around you. Whether traveling through rain or snow, the faster we travel, the longer it takes to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. When driving in inclement weather, keep a greater than usual distance from the vehicle in front of you and maintain a speed that will allow you to safely stop and react appropriately should other ongoing traffic suddenly stop or slide. 

Always maintain a clear vision of your driving space. Be alert to what is going on well ahead of you. Avoid using cruise control to ensure the vehicle is manually controlled in a manner reflective of the wintry conditions, able to respond quickly to cars braking in the distance.

Finally, I encourage all West Virginians to take any and all necessary precautions to ensure vehicles are prepared and properly equipped for the winter months that lie ahead. Check antifreeze levels, keep the gas tank near full, check air pressure in tires and consider leaving an extra blanket, boots, coat and gloves in the car in case of an emergency.

Once you are ready for holiday travel, don’t forget to check or follow @WV511 on Twitter and “know before you go” for all major state highways. Visit or download the app to get real time updates and information prior to, and during, your travel. 

Whether driving to work or school, or heading to the mountains to enjoy one of our state’s beautiful winter resorts, I encourage you to drive safe this winter season. For more tips and winter preparedness information, visit 

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