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Safety tips: winter driving

Being born in Burbank and raised among Daly City, San Francisco and the Valley of Los Angeles has given me the ability to see how unpredictable California weather can be.

In California, you can wake up one day with clear blue skies (or as clear as the smog would permit the sky to be) and the sun shining, beating down 80 degree weather on your face, then wake up the next day underneath a thick, gray blanket of fog, wrapped tightly between layers of clothing, longing for the moment of comfort you’ll find in pulling the covers of your bed over your face.

But the weather here in California is much more than unpredictable; it’s also dangerous. The volatile nature of the weather in California, specifically the Bay Area in which we reside, poses several safety issues. It is not uncommon for the weather here to a take wet and slippery turn as we reach the Winter season. Extra precautions must be made and carefully practiced, especially when traveling on our steep, winding roads and various bridges.

On Jan 23, a three-car collision as a product of the rainfall caused two cars to fall off of Highway 101 near Candlestick Park and into the bank, reports The only casualty from the accident was a 25 year-old man suffering from a broken arm, according to NBC Bay Area.

“Events like this should really be an eye opener for members of our community to start exercising caution even before they start their car,” said Niviece Robinson, the Interim Director of Public Safety. “I’ve gone through a few different events in which poor weather conditions increased the difficulty of driving. I’ve almost been in two accidents because of poor weather.”

Robinson has driven through different regions of the United States for previous jobs, giving her a new experience in each state.

“I remember there was even a time where I had to jump out of my window because it set on fire. But that was a long time ago,”

Robinson said, laughing about how she thought about becoming a stunt double after that incident.

Luckily, Robinson took courses in defensive driving that trained her in the proper ways to handle yourself in such scary and dangerous situations.

“Don’t freak out,” Robinson stressed. “That’s when you start to lose control and how accidents happen.”

Robinson suggested for everyone in the Mills community to look into their insurance companies to see if they offer courses in defensive driving training. Most big insurance companies offer such courses for free, as stated in your respective insurance plans. There are also other private companies that advertise for defensive driving training in the phonebook, though those courses have fees for instruction.

Another free, useful resource to use to plan for safe driving is This website allows you to plan your trip with links to current driving and traffic conditions, and interstate and highway weather conditions. also gives you the chance to plan your trips based on your means of transportation, including: automobiles, buses, and more pedestrian means of traveling such as bicycling or on foot.

Robinson also said it is important to practice less distracted driving, since distracted driving poses the same sorts of risks that weather conditions do. Distracted driving is classified by, but not restricted to: texting, using a cell phone or smartphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reading, using a navigation system and adjusting the radio while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report from 2009 states that 5.474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. The National Safety Council reports that one out of every four traffic accidents is caused by drivers talking on cell phones or sending text messages.

“Weather conditions shouldn’t have all the blame forced on them when it comes to accidents,” Robinson said. “We also have to take the necessary precautions before we enter a car and as we prepare to travel in one.”