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Editorial: Stay safe this winter

If residents of the Capital District had forgotten what winter looks like after last year’s clear and warm weather, everyone had an ample does of reminder of the past days.

Winter arrived in the area in full force, with two significant snowfalls in the space of a few days. While winter weather complicates nearly everything, nowhere else is it so dangerous and dramatic than on the road. As you head out in snowy weather this season, keep in mind some driving pointers:

• Take it slow. This is probably the most important piece of winter driving advice, and will keep you and others much safer. Remember, even if your four-wheel-drive, snow-tired tank gets up and going with no problem in the snow, when it comes time to stop these things won’t slow you down any faster.

• Be prepared for the worst. Don’t let the needle dip below a quarter-tank of gas, just in case you end up stuck. Similarly, keep a small shovel in the trunk — and sand or kitty litter for when the going gets really tough — along with emergency gear like an extra hat, gloves and a heavy blanket. A candle will actually warm a car interior several degrees (but be careful when burning anything). Similarly, if you do get stranded away from shelter, don’t leave your car. You have a much better chance of waiting for help than seeking it out.

• Never use cruise control in icy or snowy conditions, and increase the distance between your car and the next car to eight to 10 seconds.

•Before you start your car up, make sure the tailpipe isn’t clogged with ice or snow. This can cause carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin.

• Know your brakes. If you have antilock brakes (most newer cars do) you don’t have to pump your brakes if you skid, just apply steady pressure and let the system do its thing. But don’t rely on ABS, it’s a safety feature, not a driving feature.

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