Harrison County received its first taste of winter weather this week as temperatures dropped below freezing, delivering the area's first snow in nearly three years.
It also brought on a slew of vehicular crashes as East Texans unfamiliar with the inclement weather ventured out of their element.
Marshall Police Department issued several warnings throughout the week, but reports of crashes continued to pour in: Jackknifed trucks, sliding cars and, tragically, one fatality.
But though the snow has come and gone, fallen victim to our typically warmer climate, we are not out of harm's way yet. When the freezing temperatures return, we should be ready, carrying with us advice and techniques to keep ourselves and one another a bit safer.
We should get into the habit of slowing down in all inclement weather, be it rain, fog or especially ice where traction is at a premium.
In the same vein, accelerate and decelerate slowly, to aid in keeping traction on icy roads.
Our defensive driving should also escalate in poor weather. One way is to triple the car lengths between us and the next vehicle. This way if the next vehicle slides or otherwise gets in trouble, it won't involve your vehicle.
Additional caution should be used when approaching bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas which have a tendency to be the first areas affected by freezes.
In the case of sliding, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of the skid until regaining the traction necessary to straighten the vehicle. Only pump the brake, don't floor it. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply steady pressure on the brake.
Above all, if you don't have to be out in the weather – don't be. Even if the rest of these tips and tricks were old news and you are an expert in driving in the snow – not everyone else can. Be safe; stay home.
The next time the winter weather brings freezing conditions to Harrison County we will be ready. Be vigilant, be educated, but most of all – be safe.