Snow mattresses can spell trouble for drivers during the winter commute

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- As winter storms barrel through the region, keeping your car clean from piling snow can be key to staying safe.

Source: Oregon Dept. of Transportation / CC BY 2.0 / MGN

"We want to be very careful when we start our trips to make sure that we do the best we can to prepare our equipment so that it is safe before we go out," said program coordinator Mark Sandoval.

For drivers, winter's icy hand may lead to the dreaded “snow mattress,” a pile on the roof of your car that can spell trouble on your commute.

"What can happen is it could cause an accident when that snow and ice falls off of that vehicle onto the pathway of another vehicle. That's very dangerous. And there have been reports of fatalities resulting from that," said Sandoval.

At Rock Valley College's Truck Driving program, students learn how to do a pre-trip inspection, which makes sure to care of every aspect of their vehicle before heading out on the road.

"My respect value has gone way up for truck drivers. These things can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing," said Van Avant.

For new driving student Van Avant, learning how to drive a big rig in inclement weather pushes him to urge others to be aware and alert.

"Anybody driving a civilian car that's not driving a semi should be mindful of our blind spots. We have a lot of snow that kicks up off of our four wheels, so when you're getting ready to pass one of us, just don't come by and sit beside us. Just drive on past us. We know what we're doing, we're going to keep it in the lane," said Avant.

Those with the Truck Driving School say everyone should take a moment to make sure they've removed as much snow off their vehicles as possible to protect others from an unwanted manmade blizzard.