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SD Highway Patrol Busy Answering Calls

January 20, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

SD Highway Patrol Busy Answering Calls
NEAR SALEM, SD -

Once you leave the comforts of city driving, a whole new adventure begins because of the blowing snow.

"People travel when they really don't need to be traveling. Everybody's got someplace to go, obviously, but nobody is willing to sit tight," Sgt. Steve Swenson said.

That means the Highway Patrol answers call after call about vehicles sliding into the ditch.

"It's something that surprises people. We go from where we can see a clear sky and now in front of us the visibility starts to be reduced by the blowing snow," Swenson said.

An issue that Swenson sees all too often is people in four-wheel drive vehicles being over-aggressive and that can lead to dangerous results, especially as the melting snow freezes onto the roads.

"You can't stop any faster than someone in a two-wheel drive vehicle. Yeah, you can get better traction and go faster, but when you need to stop, the ability to stop, the four-wheel drive isn't going to make any difference," Swenson said.

Low visibility and slick roads are also a nightmare for anyone driving a semi. The strong winds can take over the truck and cause a big mess.

"Once they lose traction in the power unit and the trailer, they just jackknife. It's very common," Swenson said.

For any vehicle, the worst part is when visibility gets down to zero. That's when Swenson says it's best to stop driving and find shelter.

"If there's a safe place to get off the interstate, I don't recommend pulling off onto the shoulder of the interstate because people aren't expecting people to be parked there. If you can get off the interstate to someplace safe, that would be a recommendation," Swenson said.

Another recommendation by Swenson is that unless it's absolutely necessary, it would be best not to drive at all in similar road conditions.

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