Officials: Stay off of Kent streets

Rachel Abbey

The Portage County Sheriff’s Office declared a level two snow emergency yesterday afternoon, advising that individuals only drive if unavoidable.

Blowing and drifting snow make road conditions dangerous, according to a press release from the office.

Parking has been banned on Kent city streets from 8 a.m. yesterday until 8 a.m. tomorrow because of the weather. According to a press release from the Department of Public Service, parking is banned on city streets when two or more inches of snow have accumulated to make snow and ice removal easier.

Students who must drive can take a few “common sense” precautions to stay safe, said Kent Police Capt. Michelle Lee.

“Slow is better,” Lee said.

She also advised that drivers increase the distance they keep between vehicles. While one car length for every 10 miles per hour is usually acceptable, she said to double it during slushy, slippery conditions such as yesterday.

Drivers should keep their lights on, even during the day, to increase visibility, Lee said. Snow-covered vehicles may be difficult to see even in daylight.

Lt. Mike Marucci, Ravenna post commander for the Ohio Highway Patrol, said drivers need to pay particular attention to the weather, as white-out conditions can occur rapidly.

Despite precautions, drivers should still be sure to buckle their seat belts, as accidents are more likely in inclement weather, Lee said.

If an individual’s car begins to slide or skid, drivers should pump the brakes, not slam them, while keeping their hands loosely on the wheel, Lee said. By letting the wheel go, the car has the chance to correct itself. Trying to control the slide may actually make the car swerve further off its course.

However, anti-lock brakes do the pumping for the driver, so individuals with vehicles with that feature should just hit the brakes.

If a driver does get into an accident or veer off the road, Marucci said he or she should stay with the vehicle. Walking could be more dangerous because of intense wind or cold. In addition, another vehicle could lose control, striking the pedestrian.

Instead of leaving to seek help, the driver should call for help using his or her cell phone.

“The key is to be prepared at all times,” Marucci said.

Individuals should keep road flares, reflectors and signs in their cars to alert police and other drivers of their presence, he said. Turning on hazard lights further increases visibility.

Drivers should also have first aid kits and bottled water in the car for emergencies and a sleeping bag or blanket to help them stay warm while they wait for help to arrive, he said.

Stranded motorists can reach the Highway Patrol at 1-877-7-PATROL.

Contact public affairs reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].