Winter is on its way, and with it come the hazards of driving in ice and snow.

New York State Police are reminding drivers to take note of the changing seasons. Troop B Commander Maj. Richard C. Smith says he knows many don't look forward to the winter weather and "less-than-perfect" driving conditions, but that's all the more reason to be prepared.

"Winter is coming and with it the hazards of snow, ice and cold temperature," he said in a news release. "However, there are a number of actions that (motorists) can take to make our winter driving safer for ourselves and those whom we share the road with."

Among the tips Smith offers is for drivers to adjust their attitudes. He says a good attitude focuses attention and puts safety first.

And now is the time to prepare vehicles for the upcoming bad roads.

"Winter hazards can be the most dangerous of all of the driving situations we face," Smith said. "More people are involved in crashes during the winter than any other time."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 225,000 crashes occur and 70,900 people are injured annually in the United States due to snow and sleet.

Each year, 870 people die as a result of winter storms on the road.

Every vehicle should carry emergency items, such as antifreeze, non-freezing windshield wash and spare tires. Engines, brakes and exhausts should be tuned up.

Tires should have good tread for better grip on messy roads.

Police suggest, before starting a trip, to check the forecast, clean off all snow and frost, let the vehicle warm up and leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination without rushing.

And when driving on snow or ice, police suggest driving slowly, increasing the distance between vehicles, avoiding slamming on the brakes and using cruise control, and steering smoothly.

Smith also said it's a good idea to prepare a winter driving kit.

"I hope by following these tips we can reduce the number of accidents and the number of people injured."

Email Rebecca Webster at: rwebster@pressrepublican.com

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