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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Driving Tips All the Experts Agree On

With widespread snow predicted for Colorado, the American Red Cross, AAA, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) have collaborated to incorporate each agency’s expertise into a comprehensive list of winter driving advice for motorists.

The agencies recommend the following:
1. Compile a Winter Safety Kit. A Winter Safety Kit will help you be prepared in the event that your vehicle becomes disabled, you're caught in traffic for extended amounts of time, or you are stranded. The items suggested below can be purchased at most grocery and superstores for around $50.

  • Flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists
  • Sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow
  • Battery or crank-powered radio to listen to emergency broadcasts
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or crank-powered flashlight 
  • Survival blanket or sleeping bag
  • Chemical hand warmers
  • Extra set of clothes, including coat, hat, mittens, boots, etc. 
  • Gallon jug of water and nonperishable food 
  • First Aid Kit and essential medications
  • Tire chains and tow strap 
  • Non-clumping kitty litter/sand for traction
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra cloth or paper towels for cleanup if necessary
  • Deck of cards or board game for entertainment
2. Make Pre-Trip Preparations. When considering driving during severe winter weather conditions,  weigh the urgency of trips. In the event your trip can't be postponed and must occur during winter conditions, it is critical to perform pre-trip vehicle and personal checks, and abide by safety guidelines during your trip. 
Vehicle Check:
  • Check your vehicle’s brakes, head lights, brake lights, turn indicators, and emergency flashers
  • Ensure gas tank is full, and keep it above half-full during the trip.
  • Check that tires have good tread and are properly inflated
  • Ensure that your windshield wiper fluid reservoir is full and windshield wiper blades are in good condition
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged (charging from car battery could deplete car battery charge)
  • Remember not to leave your car running while it is unattended
 Travel Planning Check:
  • Review your route and current driving conditions on www.cotrip.org or call 511 before your departure
    • Note the locations of varying services like fueling stations, food, and lodging
    • Be aware that changes in elevation and the time of the day can affect and even change weather and driving conditions, so make sure to dress appropriately.
    • Be aware that driving times may change as your trip progresses depending on weather and traffic conditions
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination and be well-rested for your drive.
 3. Know What To Do During Trips:
  • Make sure driver and passengers have fastened their seatbelts before departure
  • Don’t use cruise control when traveling in winter conditions
  • Slow down! Speed limits are posted for optimum driving conditions, but during winter weather conditions, speeds should be reduced.
  • Extend following distances, do not expect 4WD to help you stop any faster
  • Give snow plows plenty of room and never pass on the right
  • Maintain your lane while driving except to pass and drive as smoothly as possible
  • Maintain awareness of where you are
  • Avoid cell phone use while driving and remember that texting while driving is against the law
  • Be prepared that certain parts of roadways may be icier than others (including on- and off-ramps, bridges, overpasses, curves, etc.)
  • Remember that commercial trucks are difficult to operate during winter conditions, and allow plenty of following distance. Larger vehicles have difficulty seeing smaller vehicles.
For more information about winter driving in Colorado, visit http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving. To receive real-time updates about road conditions in your area, visit www.coloradodot.info/  and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right hand corner of the page.

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