Today is the day we're supposed to be watching to see if the groundhog predicts an early spring. According to legend, if he sees his shadow and runs back into his hole, we'll have six more weeks of winter. If he stays out, spring will arrive sooner.
If today's weather forecasts are correct -snow, freezing rain, then more snow- it's unlikely the little critter will even emerge from his hole, let alone stay out.
Here in Columbiana County we're not likely to be to concerned about Punxsutawney Phil, Buckeye Chuck, Wheeling Will or any of the furry so-called weather prognosticators today. We'll probably spend most of our time digging out, thawing out and wondering how we'll get around safely today, if we must go out.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, in the United States each year, approximately 7,000 roadway deaths and 450,000 injuries are associated with poor weather-related driving conditions.
It is reported that weather plays a role in approximately 28 percent of all crashes and accounts for 19 percent of all roadway fatalities. In addition to the intangible toll these crashes cause, the economic toll of weather-related deaths, injuries and delays is estimated at $42 billion per year.
So, if you can, stay home today. But if your job or other situations require you to be on the roads, here are a few tips to make your traveling safer:
Clear any snow away from your vehicle's windows, lights, brake lights, roof and signals to make sure you can see and be seen.
Leave plenty of time to reach your destination safely. Don't speed.
Always wear your seatbelt and properly restrain children in the back seat of a vehicle.
Give yourself plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.. It takes extra time and extra distance to bring your car to a stop on slick and snowy roads.
Brake early, slowly and correctly. Never slam on the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal. Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop.
When driving on ice and snow, do not use cruise control and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. When merging into traffic, take it slow. Sudden movements can cause your vehicle to slide.
And, finally, keep your attention on the road. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by cellphones, the radio or other passengers.
With a little common sense and luck we'll make it safely through this storm. And, in the meantime, spring begins in 51 days, or a little over seven weeks.