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After this most recent snow storm to hit the Pacific Northwest, it is helpful to be reminded of some winter driving tips to be prepared for the next time you have to maneuver on snowy and icy roads.
The Wayne County Sheriff in Michigan posted this article regarding safe winter road tips for any and all motorists who find themselves commuting during the winter. Here are some of their points to remember:
BEFORE YOU DRIVE
-If possible, wait until snow plows have cleared the way of your desired route. -Clear the area all around your tires, using a clay-type kitty litter to improve traction and keep your wheels from spinning. -Completely remove all snow and ice from your vehicle before moving. -Clear all of your windows of completely, but avoid using the wipers on your windshield- an icy windshield can cut your wiper blades. -Go through a checklist: brakes/tires, battery ignition system, antifreeze and thermostat, wipers & de-icing washer fluid, headlights, tail/brake lights, blinkers & emergency flashers, exhaust system, heater and defroster.
-Keep PLENTY of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, as stopping on snow/ice may require as much as 10x your normal stopping distance. -DO NOT lock up your brakes. If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, press firmly on the brake pedal and hold it. Witout anti-lock brakes, don't slam on the brakes when your wheels start to lock. Ease off the brake pedal then gently re-apply pressure. -Before entering a curve or making a turn, decrease your speed considerably and take your foot off the gas, allowing the engine to slow you down before braking slightly through the turn. -Avoid any sudden maneuvers. Try and stay in constant motion to prevent your wheels from spinning. -If driving down a hill, stay in a low gear, letting the engine help keep you in control.
IF YOU BECOME STRANDED
-Tie a bright colored cloth to your antenna and raise your hood. -Start the engine. Turn your interior light and heater on for ten minutes each hour. -Keep your exhaust pipe clear and leave a downwind window open as a vent to avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning. -Clap your hands together and move your legs every so often to stiumlate circulation and lessen the chance of frostbite and hypothermia. Use maps, newspaper or your car mats for additional insulation. -DO NOT leave your car unless help is visible and available within 100 yards.
THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR
-Cell phone -Warm clothes, such as gloves, coat and solar blankets -Waterproof poncho -First-aid kit with sterile pads, aspirin, sting relief pad and instructions -A gallon of drinking water (replace once a year) -Spot/flash light and extra batteries -Road flares and/or reflective triangles -Empty gas container and jumper cables -Strong rope or tow chain and tire repair canister -Swiss Army style pocket knife at tool kit -Fire extinguisher