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Sheriff offers tips for dealing with icy road conditions

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The slick roads and white-out conditions have law enforcement urging everyone to exercise caution behind the wheel.

But when push comes to shove, many drivers are unsure about what to do if they find themselves caught in a slippery situation.

While the conditions can't necessarily be avoided, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff says a lot of the crashes that follow can be prevented.

When you hit an icy patch and begin to slip and slide-what do you do?

"Hit the brakes," said driver Edward Green.

"I don't know. I try to pull back the other way I guess," offered driver John Lincoln.

"Best thing to actually do is turn your wheel and hit the gas just a little bit to get control," said driver Chris Walters.

After white-out conditions swept in this weekend, causing massive pile-ups on I-94, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller wants drivers to be on high alert.

"If you are in a spin out situation, the best thing you can do is not panic. Take your foot off the gas and do not apply your brakes. Just steer with your spin," he said.

He says a dry road can turn into a sheet of ice in an instant. And when you don't know what to do in whiteout conditions--ice can surprise a driver.

"We cannot predict when they are going to pop up, but I ask people, forecast your route, make sure you have an idea that if you are driving from here to New Buffalo, and you've done it before and you recognize the wind blows the snow across there, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to do the travel and that you are paying attention to places you might want to get off when you start seeing conditions worsen," Fuller said.

Sheriff Fuller says a common problem he sees is drivers hitting the brakes in an attempt to regain control.

And with reduced visibility, it is a challenge to maneuver in any vehicle on slick roads.

"The one thing I've noticed my entire career is that sometimes people correlate four wheel drive with four wheel stop. It's not the same thing," Fuller said.

Sheriff Fuller also says drivers should never stop in the middle of the highway in hazardous conditions.

Doing so may result in a chain-reaction crash.

Instead, drivers should veer off into a safe area.