By Tech. Sgt. Wes Wright
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With winter knocking on the door at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, the 50th Space Wing Safety and Public Affairs offices are teaming up to remind Airmen about winter driving safety and snow call procedures.
While many Coloradans are familiar with the phrase, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” not all are prepared for what that means in the winter.
“Winter driving and traffic is more dangerous than usual primarily because of high winds and elevation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Armstrong, 50th SW safety office occupational safety manager. “While there are other locations just as cold and drop more snow, the snow that lands here is melted by sun despite cold temps due to high elevation; then, the high winds blow snow off the road giving the appearance the roads are clear.”
To help Airmen understand road hazards at any given time, there are four different categories of road conditions:
Green: Unrestricted. Road conditions are normal.
Yellow: Use caution. Road conditions are normal to dangerous, low visibility/slick, snow-covered roads. Use headlights.
Red: Road conditions are hazardous. Extremely low visibility/icy roads/deep snow. Driving is limited to mission essential only. Use headlights and extreme caution.
Black: Road conditions are hazardous to extremely hazardous. Absolutely no personal vehicular travel is permitted. Only snow removal/emergency vehicles will operate during this condition.
Road condition information can be found by visiting the 50th Space Wing Facebook page or calling the base SNOW line at 567-SNOW (7669). Road conditions are also posted at base entry control points.
At times, conditions may warrant the 50th SW commander to enact delayed reporting for the base. Late reporting decisions are normally made by 4 a.m. during inclement weather and early closure by noon.
The primary notification of late reporting or closure is by the AtHoc system, base website, Facebook and the SNOW line. The information is also distributed to local TV stations and people can expect to see the notification on the scrolling text ticker at the bottom of the news channel screen for most outlets.
“We highly encourage everyone to like and follow our Facebook page, since that’s what we update first during inclement weather,” said Cheri Dragos-Pritchard, 50th SW Public Affairs chief of media operations.
“Weather conditions vary widely throughout the area, so individuals with specific commuting concerns should contact their leadership for a risk management assessment,” she continued.
Armstrong advised Airmen keep an emergency kit in their cars that includes at a minimum: chains, shovel, blankets, flashlights, matches, candles, quick energy food, flares and jumper cables.
The safety manager also offered a few tips for winter driving.
“Rule No. 1, slow down when driving,” he said. “Too many drivers continue at speeds that are unsafe for the conditions. Do not tailgate ever, but especially in cold and snowing conditions and lightly apply breaks to avoid skidding.”
Armstrong also advised people should warm up their cars fully before driving.
“Clean off windows and all head, tail and indicator lights,” he said. “Turn lights on even if you don’t feel you need it to see, it’s more for other drivers to see you.”
For anyone who is new to driving on snow and ice, Armstrong said there are driving courses off base Airmen can seek out.
“The courses are not mandated, therefore not reimbursed,” he said. “However, investing in your safety is always a good financial investment. I highly encourage driving courses, especially for those who have never driven in snow.”
For more information on winter driving safety, contact Armstrong at 567-SAFE (7233).