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Christmas Vacation Lessons Learned: Vehicle Operations in Winter Weather

Christmas is just days away and while I am not normally a Christmas movie guy, I do watch a couple throughout December. My favorite Christmas movie is the seasonal favorite, National Lampoons, Christmas Vacation. While I enjoy this movie as pure entertainment, it is also a valuable tool for the Emergency Manager. Christmas Vacation is more than just a good time; it is a lesson on what not to do when getting ready to celebrate the holidays. If you have not seen the movie, stop reading immediately and go find it. The value of this will be amplified, and much more tolerable, if you have seen the movie.

In the opening scenes of Christmas Vacation, the Griswald's are driving in a winter wonderland and find themselves trapped underneath a semi when Clark doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings. This mistake caused the family to slide off the road, and while they were relatively unharmed, the case could have been much worse.

When driving on icey roads, remember to take is easy. Remember to accelerate and decelerate slowly. Do not panic; applying the gas slowly is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids after losing control. It always takes longer to slow down on icy roads. AAA reminds us that the normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.[1]


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