Chief’s Corner: How to stay on the road, and safe, this winter
We have already seen the predictable rash of vehicle accidents on Highway 89, Interstate 80 and other roads in the area.
Inclement weather driving can be frightening and dangerous, but most winter vehicle accidents are both predictable and preventable. If you don’t have to go out, don’t, stay home!
Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone has experience with winter driving and the unexpected is more likely during stormy conditions. If you absolutely must drive, please follow these tips.
Before you drive
Allow yourself extra time when driving in challenging conditions.
Warm up your car so the defroster is effective but remember to never turn on a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
Scrape your windshield (along with the side and rear windows!)
Remove all the snow from your car, including the roof! Snow can slide down over the windshield at the most inappropriate and dangerous moments.
Make sure the windshield washer reservoir is full and windshield wipers are working well.
Keep your gas tank close to full.
Be sure your tires have good tread and are properly inflated.
Carry tire chains, and put them on when chain controls are in effect!
Some items to carry
Snow shovel, broom and ice scraper.
Jumper cables, flashlight and flares.
Blankets, water, food and any necessary medicine.
Do not drive while fatigued.
Avoid using cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces.
Do not text or engage in any activities that may distract you while driving.
Obey traffic laws, speed limits and chain controls.
Drugs and alcohol impair perception, judgment and motor skills. Designate a sober driver.
Most importantly — buckle up and slow down.
Cold weather tests the limits of your car’s mechanical abilities. Simply driving at a speed appropriate to the conditions will reduce or eliminate many slippery weather concerns, from bad tires to poor visibility.
If you notice cars “stacking up” behind you, pull over so they can pass, and you can continue driving at a safe speed.
Remember, your firefighters and law enforcement professionals greatly appreciate slower speeds through any emergency scene they happen to be working.
Allen Riley is fire chief at the Squaw Valley Fire Department.