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Preventing icy car accidents this winter

With wintry weather comes slick, dangerous conditions on the roadways.

Eastern Idaho got a big wakeup call over Veterans Day weekend.

So did Idaho State Trooper Neil Stevens, who says he responded to at least six different slide-off accidents along Highway 20 alone.

“(Drivers have) been sliding all over the roads,” Stevens said. “It’s our first winter storm. People are just not prepared for it.”

One of the slide-offs happened near the Science Center Drive exit in Idaho Falls.

“(The driver) fishtailed and lost control of the vehicle, hit a guard rail, causing the vehicle to overturn,” Stevens described.

The driver in that particular case was OK, but that’s not always the story. What is always true is that icy wrecks are preventable.

“When you start to see the snow fly, you just need to be more of a defensive driver,” Stevens said. “One of the best things we can do is just slow down.”

It’s not just what you do with your car that keeps these accidents from happening. Prevention also has a lot to do with what you do to your car.

“Check all the coolant, check all the fluid levels, make sure all the tire pressure’s good. Just make sure everything’s in working order,” said Scott Mackay, the service manager at Fred and Wayne’s Tires and Service in Idaho Falls.

As temperatures go down, Mackay has seen business go up.

Drivers are rushing in to get their snow tires put on, or get a tune up to make sure things don’t freeze up under the hood.

“Belts breaking,” Mackay said, listing the most common winter car woes. “I have a problem with cars freezing because they havent had their coolant checked properly, dead batteries…”

Mackay says the average cost for a winter tune-up is only about $100, which is probably less than the body work a driver would need after a wreck and definitely less than the cost of a life that could have been saved.

“We want everybody to be as safe as possible on these highways,” Stevens said.

Drivers who choose to swap summer tires for studded tires can legally use studs in Idaho through April 31.

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