PLATTSBURGH - Though the first day of winter isn't officially recognized until Dec. 21, the weather outside told a different story earlier this week.
Motorists across the region found themselves digging out from a snowstorm that hit late Monday night, leaving several inches of accumulation through Tuesday morning.
The weather made a recent announcement by state police Maj. Robert C. Smith Jr. pertinent, in which Smith issued a reminder to motorists to be aware of increased hazards of winter driving with the changing seasons.
"I know there are those of us who don't look forward to the coming of winter nor do we look forward to driving under less than perfect conditions," stated Smith. "Winter is coming and with it the hazards of snow, ice and cold temperatures. However, there are a number of actions that each one of us as motor vehicle operators can take to make our winter driving safer for ourselves and those whom we share the road with."
Smith recommended motorists adjust their driving attitudes, noting attitude is "the most important factor in safe driving."
"A good attitude means putting safety first and focusing your attention on your driving," he stated.
Smith also recommended motorists go over a checklist of items to prepare on their vehicles for the winter season. Items include:
• Windshield wipers and nonfreezing windshield wash
• Headlights and tail lamps
• Heater and defroster
• All hoses and belts
• Tires with good tread
• Battery and alternator
• Engine oil
• Jack, lug wrench and spare tire
Smith also recommended motorists have an engine tune up and have both brakes and exhaust checked.
In the event you are stranded, Smith suggested emergency items are prepacked in your vehicle, including a blanket or sleeping bag, flashlight, warm gloves, handwarmers, flares, first aid kit, hat, insulated footwear, shovel, bag of salt, tow rope, ice scraper and snowbrush.
Before starting a trip, Smith said drivers should check the weather forecast, start their vehicle for a few minutes before departing, clean all snow and ice from the vehicle, ensure the windshield is clear of frost, let a friend or relative know when you are leaving and when you expect to arrive at your destination, and leave plenty of time to arrive without having to rush.
Smith also urged motorists to drive slow and adjust speed to the conditions of the road. Maintaining proper following distance and wearing your seatbelt are also tips he offered.
"Winter hazards can be the most dangerous of all the driving situations we face," stated Smith ... I hope by following these tips we can reduce the number of accidents and the number of people injured."