Road Work Ahead; Driving Safely in the Winter


Heather McQuinn and Kylee White

Slip-n-slides are consistently enjoyable during the warm, sunshine soaked months of summer. But they’re not so fun if you find yourself behind the wheel and you’re slipping and sliding on a patch of ice. According to an auto insurance survey, more than 116,800 people become injured each year from car accidents that have occurred due to snowy or icy roads. As of lately, NHS staff and students have been working together to create a safer driving experience to prevent young drivers from becoming a part of that statistic. 

“I don’t think there is an overarching big problem with student drivers at NHS,” principal Dr. Craig McCaffery said. “Student drivers at NHS are just like all other student drivers.  Sometimes drivers make poor decisions (like speeding or driving recklessly) or are distracted when driving but overall students do well.” 

McCaffery has noticed students speeding in the drives in both the front and back of the school, and is concerned about students’ potential to be driving too fast on snow and ice. 

“I am worried that student drivers don’t give themselves more time to get to school which would cause them to drive faster than they should be given the conditions,” McCaffrey said.

Countless students are new drivers this year, and several have found themselves driving in harsh weather for the first time. Many of these students also find themselves struggling with the challenges that being a new driver can create, especially in the school parking lots. 

“I feel like there  are a few small safety issues,” sophomore Addison Unger said. “ I just feel like traffic after school, especially on black days, could be handled better. So many people try to cut others off or sneak between parking spots and there’s usually honking and it takes me 15 to 25 minutes on a good day to get out”

Unger has only had her license for a few months and says that she is very confident with her driving because of the practice that she was able to gain, both with her permit and her license. Since operating a vehicle during the colder months is a territory she hasn’t experienced before, this winter season has introduced new challenges to driving on the road. 

“A couple of times where it’s snowed but the roads have been really icy I would keep sliding every time I turned, no matter how slow I went,” Unger said. 

Unger is not the only student who has faced these difficulties while driving on the winter roads. Junior Victoria Gien has seen similar experiences. 

“[One day] when I was driving to school, my car slid on the ice twice while I was turning, and I’m really lucky that no other cars were near me when this happened or I most likely would’ve gotten in an accident,” Gien said. 

With situations like these, NHS’s resource officers say it’s important to know how to stay safe on the road. 

“I always encourage young drivers to start stopping much sooner than they would on dry roads as you never know when there might be snow or ice near the stop light or sign,” officer Andrew Reiss said, “When driving on snow covered roads you should also reduce your speed, as a slick road can cause your car to slip on the roadway and if you’re driving at a slower speed you have a better chance to recover.” 

Reiss also urges drivers to practice safe driving before even getting on the road. 

“One of the biggest issues I see in the winter that causes crashes involves drivers not cleaning off all of their windows when frost or snow has covered them. Not being able to see out your rear or side   windows or only having a small spot in front of the driver cleared off severely reduces your visibility and can lead to a crash,” Reiss said. 

Being on the road is not the only circumstance where safe driving needs to be practiced, as the NHS student parking lot has recently added a new addition to keep accidents to a minimum.  Student drivers have seen a presence of road safety signs in the past, however the amount has increased within the past year.

“The stop signs by Gate 7 were a suggestion from the principal’s advisory council,” Reiss said. “The collaboration of admin staff and resource officers decided it would be a good idea that would help the lot flow better during arrival and dismissal.”

While being alert and safe during any season on the road is important, winter driving includes a new set of boundaries that students must be aware of. NHS officials say students are expected to take road safety with the utmost responsibility,

“Driving to school is a privilege,” Mccaffrey explains,  “Everyone who drives to school has equal responsibility in keeping everyone in your vehicle around you and on campus safe.  Take that responsibility seriously.”