It’s been quite a while since the people of Danville and Vermilion County have risen to the sight of heavy snowfall outside their windows. After a series of relatively mild winters, 2021 is reminding everyone what winter weather can look and feel like.

Snow, wind and bitterly cold, single-digit temperatures have been hovering in recent weeks, but the wallop delivered Monday and today is already teasing that this is the most active winter season in at least five years, maybe more.

Of primary concern when the harsh weather descends for a prolonged stay is the safety of travelers on roads and highways. We’re a commuting society and aren’t always inclined to take the advice of transportation and public safety officials to refrain from traveling when things get this bad.

State and local transportation agencies are well prepared for these weather events, even though people still like to complain about road conditions in the aftermath of winter storms. We suspect local crews have had a long 24 hours trying to keep up with the snow accumulation, and will have things in decent shape later today. At that point, of course, they will be bracing for the next snow event forecast for later this week, although it’s not expected to carry the hit this one had.

While piles of snow can look pristine and idyllic, driving on snow and ice is an intense exercise and should be approached with caution. If you can avoid driving, do it. If you can’t, it’s best to give snow plows and sanding trucks the chance to do their work first.

If you must travel, make sure you clean all the snow and ice off of your vehicle, including headlights and taillights, before venturing out.

When traveling on treacherous roads covered with snow and ice, follow these instructions:

• Decrease speed and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

• Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

• Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

• Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

• Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

• Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first.

• Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks.

Sub-freezing temperatures are expected to persist in east-central Illinois into this weekend, when the forecast calls for a slight moderation in temperatures. So the snow and ice that have built up won’t be going away any time soon.

Be vigilant and careful if and when you must travel. Take your time. Stay safe out there.

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