Students who are unfamiliar with winter weather can follow tips like driving slowly, prioritizing visibility and having the right tools such as ice scrapers and gloves.
Utah Department of Transportation spokesperson Geoff Dupaix said there are certain behaviors and actions that can help keep everyone safe. Dupaix, a Salt Lake Valley native, has worked with UDOT for 20 years and is very familiar with driving in cold Utah winters.
“It really comes down to the question we should all be asking ourselves: ‘do I want to arrive at my destination safely? If I do, I’m sure others want that same thing,'” Dupaix said. “We need to take that responsibility for how we drive and I hope others will realize it’s better to be late than be in a crash.”
Dupaix said the very first thing every driver should do is immediately slow down. Driving slowly will increase the amount of reaction time drivers have in case of other cars losing control.
“The next step would be to increase the following distance between you and the car in front of you. This will allow you to have more control over your own car if the car in front of you starts to slide,” he said.
He also suggested not driving impaired or distracted and checking the vehicle’s condition before travelling.
For those who don’t travel by vehicle, Dupaix’s advice is to make sure visibility is the highest priority. He said it’s easy to assume drivers can always see pedestrians and warned wearing dark clothing makes it really difficult to be seen.
Dupaix emphasized that if bikers or pedestrians want to cross the street, they should cross at places with electronic machines. The best chance a pedestrian has to stay safe is at an intersection where drivers are expecting people to cross.
BYU students also shared some tips for winter weather. Orem native and junior Andrew Hillier said there are simple methods to surviving cold winters.
Drivers should always keep an ice scraper and gloves in their car, he said. The gloves will be helpful in keeping a person’s hands warm as they scrape snow and ice off their cars and hold onto an icy cold steering wheel.
Hillier said he can’t count the times he’s seen people using their coat sleeves or gloved hands to scrape ice off their windshield. There have been many times he’s used his own ice scraper to help others as they’re rushing to get to campus or leaving somewhere late at night.
A student ID or credit card can work as an ice scraper substitute in a pinch but will take longer, he said.
Another general tip Hillier suggested was for students who walk or bike to dress in layers. “Wear a T-shirt, a light jacket and a top coat. That way when you go inside and it feels like it’s 90 degrees in class, you can take off one of the layers,” he said.
Kili Franks is a junior from Redding, California. This semester is her first at BYU after transferring from Dixie State University in St. George.
One thing she wished she had known before coming to Provo in the middle of winter is the different types of snow. She said she learned the hard way to avoid glassy, icy snow and to appreciate soft, powdered snow.
Franks’ message to future students who may not be familiar with cold weather is to enjoy the beauty of Provo’s snowy scenery. She often reminds herself to be grateful for her new environment.
“The winter will really help you appreciate the warmer days — even if it’s 60 degrees, I really appreciate it,” she said.