Utahns have just been given a lethal reminder of the hazards of winter driving - and of the dangers along a particular stretch of road where the risks are often especially acute this time of year.

The reminder came Wednesday morning with the series of chain-reaction collisions involving 52 vehicles on I-215 between its junction with Interstate 15 in Bountiful and the ramps to Redwood Road, about 10 miles northwest of downtown Salt Lake City. Three persons were killed.Even with the benefit of hindsight, it's not always easy to say how a particular accident could be avoided, especially an accident involving as many vehicles as this one.

But Wednesday's carnage should remind Utahns of how quickly this particular section of road - which is heavily used by big trucks as well as passenger cars - can become enveloped in fog. And it should prompt motorists to brush up on their winter driving skills if they haven't already done so.

For openers, it pays to allow extra time to get where you're going. More hazardous driving conditions make slower speeds advisable. Winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly. You may need to allow more than the usual one car-length distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Even during daylight hours it's often advisable to turn your headlights on.

If your car goes into a skid, turn the wheels in the direction of the skid. Even vehicles with four-wheel-drive should slow down in inclement weather. While such vehicles have the traction to get going, they cannot stop any better than other vehicles.

Keep an emergency kit in your car. This should include flares or emergency triangles, flashlight, tow chain, rock salt, shovel, wool blanket.

In other words, prepare for the worst. As was demonstrated by the lethal pileups Wednesday on I-215, the worst is precisely what all too often happens.