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RICHLAND COUNTY --  Richland County residents got a couple inches of snow and extreme cold earlier this week as a reminder winter has arrived early.

Richland Public Health and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are reminding all county residents to get ready for winter driving season.

The leading cause of death during winter storms is motor vehicle crashes. Richland Public Health has prepared a “Winter Safety Tips” page that includes information reminding motorists of winter driving vehicle preparations, and then how to drive on snow and ice if you have to.

It’s available by clicking on the link on the main page at www.richlandhealth.org or by calling Health Promotion at 419-774-4726.

“The most important thing to remember is to slow down,” says Reed Richmond, health educator at Richland Public Health and AARP Senior Driver Safety Program coordinator. “If you have to drive, drive slower and show adequate caution.”

Richmond said allowing more distance to stop is also essential.

“People need to remember that even if you have four-wheel or all-wheel drive that doesn’t translate to quicker stopping. In fact, because of their added weight, pickup trucks and SUVs may need longer to stop on ice or snow than a passenger car," he said.

Richmond added a few quick tips from the AARP Driver Safety workbook:

-- Make sure your tires have adequate tread

-- Make sure your car is ready for winter with proper level of anti-freeze

-- Keep windows and headlights free of snow and ice

-- Reduce speed and increase following distance

-- Remember bridges and shaded areas ice first and retain ice longer than roadways

-- Know that an icy road is more slippery at 32 degrees than at lower temperatures

Richmond says the two most important safety measures apply to driving at any time of the year: always wear your seat belt and never drive after drinking alcohol.

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