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Chief's Monthly Message

Dec 27

[ARCHIVED] Winter Driving

The original item was published from December 27, 2016 11:11 AM to September 21, 2018 9:26 AM

Guest column by George Brown, Street Superintendent

George BrownWith winter upon us, it is a great time to talk about snow removal and safe driving habits for snow and icy conditions. The City of Derby pretreats streets with salt brine when we expect snow or ice accumulation. We use a mixture of salt and sand to manage packed snow or ice to give drivers traction and stopping power, while your tires help grind the material into the ice or packed snow helping it melt.

As for snowplows, you have likely seen city trucks with blades on their front ends moving throughout the community during winter weather. These trucks move tons of material quickly to allow traffic to flow. You can view our snow routes and policy at

What can you do to help? First, think about whether you need to make the trip. Is the errand something you can put off for later? Waiting improves your chances the roads will have been treated or cleared by City staff prior to you getting out on the streets. It also helps us. Lighter street traffic allows us to do more work faster.

Next, slow down and give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Leave early and plan for delays. Our snow team watches the weather forecast eight to twelve hours out, although weather can change quickly.

While driving, give yourself and other drivers room to move. Have you ever felt your car fishtail or slide when trying to stop? If you are too close, your chances of having an accident increase. Consider the two-second rule of following another vehicle and then double it. You will be happy to have the space if your vehicle begins to slide.

Be alert to heavy equipment near you. Our trucks have flashing lights and signs to warn you of their presence and instruct you how far to stay back. Remember that salt and sand mixture I mentioned earlier? That material is sprayed out of the back of our trucks through a sand spreader. Although small in size, the rock salt and sand can damage your vehicle if you are close to the truck. Let the trucks get 50 to 100 feet ahead of you, and you will enjoy the improved traction they provide.

One last request, please don’t use your mobile devices while driving. Distracted driving during winter conditions will compound any situation you find yourself in. Focus on your surroundings and on other drivers who may not be as safety conscious as you. Stay alert and stay safe.