Staying vigilant on the roads during the winter season

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anania Tekurio
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
With the intensity of winter storm Atlas kicking off the winter season, many Ellsworth Airmen are making sure they're up to speed with proper safety and driving procedures.

"That storm was intense," said Airman 1st Class Bryce Byerley, 28th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuels system technician. "It was crazy to see so many vehicles on all sides of the roads stuck in massive piles of snow."

Byerley said, after experiencing the first storm of the season, he now realizes how important it is to be prepared and have a plan.

"For me, winter driving begins before I even leave the house," Byerley said. "I make sure my car is warmed up and completely clear of ice and snow - even the windshield wiper blades. I even check the brakes and horn to make sure they're functioning correctly."

Tech. Sgt. Shane Christian, 28th Bomb Wing ground safety technician, said about 70 percent of accidental deaths in the winter occur in automobiles, largely due to traffic accidents.

"Before backing out of the driveway, take into consideration the risk to benefit ratio," Christian said of the importance of checking conditions and your automobile before driving during the winter months. "If it doesn't look like a good idea, it probably isn't."

Christian explained that Airmen should ensure that their vehicles have a winter survival kit, to include a blanket, jumper cables, first aid kit, flashlight, ice scraper, matches and a candle, sand or kitty litter, a shovel and a mobile phone.

He added that along with preparing vehicles for the winter months, using caution while driving can reduce accidents and other mishaps.

In an effort to inform the base community of current road conditions, base leadership has implemented a road condition warning system, consisting of green, yellow and red color signals, each specifying what the conditions are and if it is safe to travel on the road.

"I'm always checking the base website and the base's Facebook page to get the updates on the road conditions," said Nathaniel Greene, 28th Communication Squadron ground radar maintenance technician. "It's helped me on more than one occasion in the past."

Dean Stetson, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant fire chief, added that in addition to safeguarding the lives of Ellsworth Airmen and families, the road conditions warning system is designed to prevent individuals from being stranded on the road, allowing Ellsworth emergency responders and snow removal crews to perform their duties quickly and effectively.

"We all have a role to play in keeping this winter season safe and incident free," Stetson said. "Plan ahead and take your time while on the roads this winter season."
While Atlas was the first of what is expected to be a busy storm season, base safety officials said that taking steps now to safeguard yourself and your vehicle will help ensure you're better prepared for the next wave of bad weather.

For more information, or updates about road conditions at Ellsworth, call (605) 385-ROAD, or visit