Local authorities offer safety tips and advice to students as winter weather persists


Graham Smith

Cars drive by the PARTA Kent Central Gateway bus station on Tuesday, January 14, 2013. Students choose to ride PARTA busses in the winter months rather than walking or driving in the snow.

Nathan Havenner

Winter weather has come to northeast Ohio, with parts of the state seeing temperatures not seen in more than 20 years, the result of a polar vortex affecting much of the United States, according to weather.com.

These temperatures can bring a lot of snow and ice, making the roads and pathways on campus dangerous. Local authorities have recommendations for students and faculty to make driving around campus safer for everyone.

Lt. Edward Wheeler of the Kent Police Department advises students to take extra precautions when driving in winter conditions.

The police department recommends that students check their tires to make sure they are in good condition with enough tread on them. It is also recommended that students check their windshield wiper blades to make sure they are working properly. A winter-formula washer fluid can be added to vehicles, which can help clear off a frozen windshield.

Some Kent students are already making preparations for the winter weather.

“I had my tires rotated and my brakes checked,” said freshman pre-nursing major Kaitlyn Ward, who also made preparations for winter driving.

The Kent Police Department also recommends adjusting your driving habits for winter weather. These adjustments include allowing your vehicle time to warm up properly before driving and allowing extra time to get to your destination.

In addition, the Kent Police Department wants to remind students that when using the windshield wipers, the vehicle’s headlights must also be on. Also, the department advises that a posted speed limit could be too fast for safe driving in winter conditions.


“I changed my tires because I wanted to have better traction,” freshman public health major Alexis McPeak said. She said she had recently purchased new tires for her car.

In a survey of 20 Kent State students, McPeak and Ward were two of only four students that made adjustments to their vehicles for the winter season.

In addition, of the 20 students surveyed, 11 say they ride a PARTA bus around campus more during the winter months.

“We see an increase when it gets cold out. Some students don’t want to walk to class,” Frank Hairston, director of marketing and public services for PARTA, said. “It’s not just Kent students but all over Portage county.”

There are other resources available to students and faculty who may have more questions about what to do to stay safe while driving during winter conditions.

Students can check AM 1620 and the websites for the Kent Police Department and the city of Kent before driving in winter conditions. Students can also sign up for Swift911, a program through the Kent Police Department that alerts users about road closings in Kent.

AAA also has recommendations for driving safe in winter weather. They advise making sure all tires are inflated properly, never warming up a vehicle in an enclosed area such as a garage and making sure the gas tank is at least half full to avoid condensation and freezing gas lines.

In addition, AAA warns drivers not to use cruise control when driving during freezing weather and not to accelerate or decelerate too quickly on snow covered roads.

It recommends allowing extra time to do basic driving functions such as starting, stopping and making turns and to make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, which could cause carbon monoxide to leak inside the vehicle.

In the event a vehicle becomes stuck in the snow, AAA recommends the driver remain with the vehicle, which makes it easier for rescue teams to locate you and prevents the driver from becoming lost in a snowstorm.

Officer Michquel Penn of the Kent Police Department gave some of the reasons automobile accidents can happen during the winter months.

“Some of the factors include weather, individuals who have never driven in bad conditions before, people in a hurry and inexperienced drivers in general,” Penn said.

According to Officer Penn, there were 41 accidents on campus last winter. However, she also said that the University Police Department does not record if winter conditions were a factor in those accidents.

“We only categorize our traffic crashes by Roadway and Non-Roadway and by Injury and Non-Injury,” Officer Penn said.

Officer Penn recommends students carry certain safety items in their vehicle during the winter season.  These include booster cables, a flashlight and batteries, a small shovel, blankets, some brightly colored cloth that can serve as a flag if stuck, dry snacks for food and also a mat or small sack of sand to create traction under the tires if a vehicle becomes stuck in the snow.

Local authorities all agree that these are all ways students can help make sure they stay safe on the road this winter.

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].