INDIANAPOLIS - The state Department of Homeland Security is advising people in Floyd, Crawford and Washington counties in southern Indiana to stay off the roads.
The department issued travel warnings for those three counties, which is the highest level of local travel advisory. Homeland Security is asking people in those counties to refrain from travel.
Brown, Daviess, Franklin, Jefferson, Jennings, Knox, Martin, Owen, Perry, Scott and Vanderburgh counties were on travel watches, which means conditions are threatening to public safety. The department says only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended.
Eighteen other counties were under travel advisories, meaning travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation.
A master instructor with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy said people panic during the first few snows of the season.
Lt. Nick Schiavarelli said people drive too fast for the conditions.
"When the roads start becoming hazardous, slow down. It's the biggest problem people have, they think they can still drive in slick conditions at normal speeds, which they cannot do," Schiavarelli said.
Schiavarelli said following a car too closely is a recipe for a rear-end crash or sliding off the road. He had recommendations for what not to do.
"They're death gripping it and have a tendency to jerk that wheel. So we tell our officers, handle it gently, smoothly -- steering is what counts," Schiavarelli said.
If a driver hits a patch of ice, he or she should stay off the brake. If the rear of the car is going to the left, steer back toward the left, Schiavarelli said.
Drivers should also make sure to clean off windshields and lights for better visibility.
The advisories are listed at: http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory .