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Drivers forced to relearn winter skills
By Norman Miller / News Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It snows every winter in New England, but MetroWest police say drivers seem to forget that fact for the first few snowstorms of the season.

Yesterday saw less than 3 inches of snow falling throughout the area, but police departments were kept busy responding to dozens of minor accidents. Police officials said yesterday's results were typical of early season storms.

"People, initially, at the beginning of winter, haven't become acclimated to driving in bad weather," said Natick police Lt. Nick Mabardy. "It takes them a couple of storms to get used to it. The first few storms we have, there's an increase in motor vehicle accidents."

Framingham's Lt. Vincent Alfano agreed. "People aren't prepared."

The snow and ice began to fall on the area before midnight, but plow drivers did not begin their work until about 9 a.m. in Holliston, Police Chief James Peterson said.

Before the plows and sanders got started, several fender benders slowed traffic in town, he said.

"It's very slow going," Peterson said yesterday. "Right now the roads are extremely slippery and slush-covered. The plows just went out. It didn't really start snowing until 1 or 2 (in the morning). They (DPW) called out the sanders, but there wasn't enough snow to plow."

Although the roads were slushy and slippery for the morning commute, the actual snow total did not amount to much. Daily News weather watcher Alan Kattelle reported only 2 1/4 inches overnight in Hudson. Weather watcher Bari Modesto said there was 2 3/4 inches in Southborough while West Natick weather watcher Parker Wheeler Jr. reported the same amount.

Southborough police Officer Rick Mattioli said traffic problems were expected yesterday. "It comes with the typical New England weather," said Mattioli. "It's the same this year as every year."

Framingham was hit with a rash of accidents -- 11 between 8:54 and 11:29 a.m., Alfano said.

The most serious was on Rte. 9 near Temple Street at 8:54 a.m. A Dodge Caravan rolled over in the one-vehicle accident, and the driver was taken to the MetroWest Medical Center's Framingham Union campus to be treated for minor injuries, Alfano said.

Peterson said he did not know how many accidents occurred in Holliston, but said the slow going probably prevented serious crashes.

"Most people can't go very fast in this," said Peterson. "If you do slide, you don't go fast. There's just enough snow to be a nuisance."

Not all towns had bad luck yesterday. Hudson Police Chief Richard Braga said there was only one minor accident reported in a parking lot in town.

"I think we had way more accidents last (Friday) when that storm flew through," said Braga. "I guess it was the luck of the draw for us (yesterday)."

Police did say there are some things drivers can do to help avoid accidents.

Alfano said drivers should make sure to have quality all-weather or snow tires on their cars. People should leave room between their car and the vehicle in front of them to limit the chance of a rear-end crash. Also, he said people should not stop suddenly because vehicles behind them may not be able to stop in time.

To add weight to a vehicle, Alfano said a full gas tank will help anchor a car to the ground.

It does not hurt to be nice on the roads, either.

"It's important to be courteous, especially with everyone being in a hurry because of the holiday shopping season," Alfano said.

The most important thing to do as a driver, Mattioli said, is to just slow down.

"People seem to be in a rush," said Mattioli. "People need to wear their seat belts and slow down. They need to leave early if they have an appointment or something that is time-sensitive."

How do you really forget how to drive in the snow??? Dumb! :no:
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