As I write this from my Little Rock office, outside a cold rain is turning to sleet, and a record snowfall for the date is expected – of course, any snow down South in mid-November stands a decent chance at setting a record.
My concern: I’ve got to run to the airport for a 6am flight, and I’m betting that the pre-dawn road conditions are going to be challenging, at best.
And the winter’s not likely to get any better: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts this winter will have higher than average precipitation in these parts, along with below average temperatures.
Simply, most municipalities at these latitudes can’t handle a lot of snow and ice on the roads, although many upped their removal budgets after last winter’s ‘snowpocalypse.’ But, more to the point, most drivers down South are less than expert when the streets get slippery.
Just how bad? Well, when it comes to driving in rain and snow, Little Rock comes in 111 out 200 U.S. cities, according to Allstate Insurance Co. and their America’s Best Drivers Report ranking.
More dismaying, however, is that Little Rock’s ranking in all conditions is 158 – so does that mean I’m better off when the weather’s bad?
Regardless, Allstate’s interactive map on the report page is a neat tool that shows just how your friends and neighbors stack up as drivers compared to folks in other cities.
The insurance company also passes along a few winter driving tips:
- Be aware of road conditions. Ice, snow, fog, rain – all of these weather conditions require extra caution and slower speeds. Stopping safely in rain and snow takes greater lengths of roadway than in dry conditions.
- Maintain your vehicle to prepare for extreme weather. Headlights and brake lights are critical in low visibility situations – be sure they are consistently maintained along with other critical car functions such as heating, defrosters, brakes, fluid levels and windshield wipers.
- Keep a safety kit in your vehicle. In case of an emergency, ensure your car is equipped with gloves, boots, blankets, flares, water, jumper cables and a flashlight.
I’d also add that you should make sure your cell phone’s battery is charged, so you can call for assistance, or at least for sympathy, if your stuck for hours on an icy, accident-blocked freeway.