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MANSFIELD -- The Ohio State Highway Patrol on Thursday issued a reminder to drivers to winterize their vehicles and follow safe driving tips in preparation for inclement weather.

Winter weather can catch drivers off guard, but motorists can reduce the risks of being involved in a crash by making sure their vehicle is ready for the season, adopting winter driving techniques, and following general roadway safety, the patrol said.

Last winter, there were 15,676 crashes on snow, ice or slush-covered roads in Ohio. These crashes resulted in 26 fatal crashes, which killed 27 people, both down from the previous winter.

“Allowing extra time to get to your destination and reducing your speed are fundamental tips for safe winter driving,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Planning, patience, and preparation can mitigate the hazards you might face while driving in cold weather.”

Before traveling in winter weather, clear snow and ice from the windows, headlights, and taillights of your vehicle. Also, allow defrosters time to work so you can see. Once you begin driving, go slow and increase following distances, keeping in mind bridges, ramps, and overpasses will freeze first.

Remember, Ohio law requires headlights to be on at any time when the windshield wipers of the vehicle are in use. If your vehicle becomes stuck in snow, clear the tailpipe free of all snow and debris to decrease the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If your vehicle breaks down or you are involved in a crash, turn on your hazard lights, move your vehicle as far off the roadway as possible, remain in the vehicle, and call #677.

The Patrol reminds drivers to stock their vehicles with a winter car kit including: an ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blankets, cell phone charger, first aid kit, tow rope, water, and food for longer trips.

It is also important to ensure your tires have plenty of tread, check your battery, and keep your windshield washer reservoir full.

If you must travel in winter weather, visit http://www.ohgo.com/ for real-time traffic conditions from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Patrol’s winter driving traffic safety bulletin can be found at: https://statepatrol.ohio.gov/links/Winter_Driving_Bulletin_2020.pdf

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