WASHINGTON - With colder weather and mountain snow hitting the region, drivers must once again start thinking about winter driving and road safety.
AAA suggested all drivers keep a winter driver kit in their car. The kit would include a cellphone with a charger and emergency contacts. Road flares, jumper cables and flashlights with extra batteries should also be added to the kit.
Before you hit the road:
- Check the tread on your tires and replace them if necessary.
- Know how to put chains on your tires. You can see a tutorial from WSDOT here.
- Keep plenty of windshield washer fluid in your vehicle.
- Check the weather conditions and mountain pass closures.
- Remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before you leave-- even from the roof.
- Have at least half a tank full of gas.
What you need to have in your car, particularly if you're going through mountain areas:
- As temperatures drop, so will your tire pressure. AAA recommends checking tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare.
- Carry an emergency road kit in case your car breaks down.
- Have a sturdy ice scraper and brush
- Keep an extra pair of gloves, hats and blankets in the car.
- Keep a small shovel handy in case you need to dig yourself out.
- It's also helpful to keep a first aid kit and extra water in the car.
- Keep cat litter or sand in the trunk to help with traction if you get stuck.
On the road:
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Give yourself plenty of space from the cars in front of you in case you need to brake quickly.
- Drive for the conditions.
- During snow or other low-visibility winter driving conditions, drive with your low-beam headlights on to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
- Don't put extra pressure on the gas when going up a hill-- the snow on your tires will just make the wheels spin. Instead, get your inertia from the flat part of the road before the hill.
- If you start to fishtail, steer in the direction of the skid so when your wheels regain traction, you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane
- Do not use cruise control.
If you get stuck in the snow (from AAA):
- Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
- Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
- Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
- Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.
- Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.