Some people may be watching today’s news about the storm and saying “it wasn’t this way when I was young and we never had snow days from work.”
I recall several years ago when it was big news that Syracuse University cancelled classes for a snowstorm for the first time in its history. Today, I received an email from Syracuse University, where I have been teaching for 17 years, telling me that only essential personnel should show up for work today. The Governor has asked that everyone avoid nonessential travel today. I have closed my personal injury office in downtown Syracuse today and told my staff to stay home with their families.
There is One Reason For the Increase in Snow Days—Safety
It is not safe to be driving during a major snow event. Roads will be slick, visibility will be lower and vehicles can be unpredictable. Common sense safety rules tell us that if we have a choice to do something dangerous or something safe, we should choose to avoid unnecessarily endangering others or ourselves.
Over the past years institutions, governments and small businesses have come to value safety and have changed expectations for days when weather is dangerous. This is a very good thing and we should commend administrators, government officials and business owners that are making decisions that are rooted in common sense safety.
There are essential jobs where people must be out on the roads in dangerous and snowy weather. Health care workers, public works personnel, police and fire are a few of the examples that spring to mind. If you must be driving during this storm, please remember these three simple safety rules to help get you where you are needed and then back home afterward.
- Drive it like you would walk it (this comes from my father-in-law who was a long haul trucker) – you never know if your vehicle will become stuck or disabled. Dress as if you would have to walk where you are going rather than driving in a warm car. Dress in an appropriate coat, boots, gloves and a hat.
- Make sure you have enough gas – during weather events like this, roads get closed and you may be stopped in traffic for long periods of time. Fill up the tank with gas to make sure sitting in traffic doesn’t lead you to run out of gas and become stuck. That could put you in danger both from the weather and from other drivers.
- Don’t overestimate your vehicle, drive slowly – if you have a 4-wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle, don’t expect that makes it safe to drive on snowy roads the same way you drive on dry roads. Again, if I can borrow the wisdom of my father-in-law, 4-wheel or all wheel drive helps you go, it does not help you stop. He reminded me just this morning, “You can drive just as far at 30 miles per hour as you can at 60.”
Be safe out there today and remember—following the common sense safety rules we all know will help you and help our community.