New Airmen Experience Travel Difficulty - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

New Airmen Experience Travel Difficulty

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Driving in snow and ice can be a challenge for North Dakota natives, but what about airmen new to Minot Air Force Base?

"I remember being kind of over confident and sliding into the vehicle, which I didn't expect."

Lt. Jose Davis, a Texas native, moved to Minot in October, 2011. In just a few short weeks, he experienced his first taste of winter weather. But, it didn't go well. Davis ended up getting into an accident along Highway 83 on his way to work.

"You have to adjust your driving to the conditions.  They can be icy.  The cross winds can cause problems for folks," explains Dan Heald, MAFB Safety and Occupational Health Technician.  

The base has a significant number of personnel that live off base. The 13 mile drive north on Highway 83 can be challenging in the heart of winter.

In effort to help new airmen adjust to living in a new environment, they are required to take a safety course to better prepare them for winter driving conditions.

"We want to try to prepare them and give them that information when they first arrive to the Base. We're going to give a course to let them know about the local conditions, what they have to look forward to, trying to be more proactive than reactive," says Herald. 

From driving habits, to dealing with snow and ice and learning different techniques, airmen are briefed on a variety of topics. It's a program Davis wishes he would have taken sooner. But, it's better late than never.

"Taking the course helped illuminate me in a lot of things I never knew about," says Davis.

Heald encourages not only the airmen, but all drivers, to slow down, pay close attention and look at the changing conditions this winter.

"If you're driving along and you're new to snow and ice and traveling those roads and you're passing a lot of North Dakota plates, you're probably driving way too fast," says Heald.   

From Texas to North Dakota, driving conditions change all the time.  But, for Davis and the rest of the airmen at Minot Air Force Base, they now have a leg up on Mother Nature.

Officials on the base are in constant communication with the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Ward County Sheriff's Department monitoring road conditions along Highway 83.  Also, the base formed a traffic coordination group to help traffic flow both on and off the base.

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