Winter Driving Safety: This information comes from the La Pine (OR) Rural Fire Protection District. Thanks Chief Supkis, and thanks to all the emergency responders and personnel in South Deschutes County!
With the season’s first significant snowfall in mid-November, the LaPine Fire District Fire-Medics responded to five serious motor vehicles accidents in just the first two days, due to winter roads! There were many more slide-offs (fortunately no- injury).
Here are 10 very important winter safety driving tips – starting from the easiest and least costly. Note the first six cost little or nothing and you can start doing them immediately and improve your winter travel greatly!
#1 Slow Down – simple enough, but really – leave earlier and give your self time to deal with the additional hazards of slick roads and others who have not heeded this advice.
#2 Clear off ALL windows of snow and ice – yes, it’s a pain but it’s not going to blow or melt off quickly. Keeping a broom near your parking spot makes the job much more palatable.
#3 Headlights on at all times – This helps others see you so they don’t pull out in front of you.
#4 Adjust your travel time if you can – Fortunately here in Central Oregon the sun can quickly help our DOT folks improve road conditions by mid day. Check the Oregon Department Of Transportation’s road condition website and cameras for the latest.
#5 Add weight (a few sand bags) – this is more for balance rather than for traction. Most vehicles are lighter in the rear, even 4x4s. Balancing weight greatly improves handling and predictability in slick environments. (Think what NASCAR racers do to their vehicles.)
#6 Have winter survival gear in your car (flashlight, snow boots, gloves, hat). Be prepared to walk a mile if you need to.
#7 Sipe your tires – those extra little edges cut into the tread really help, especially on pack snow and ice. These are the conditions when vehicles most often loose control.
#8 Tire chains – for traction when going over the passes and in extreme conditions. They also force you to slow down –go figure.
#9 Snow tires on all four wheels – Helps in deeper snow and slush. Put on all four wheels – again for balance, steering, and braking.
#10 Studded tires – Adding studs can help on hard packed snow and ice, especially if it is glazed with water on top.
Click here to learn what to put in your vehicle survival kit.