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Time to brush-off your Winter driving skills!

News, Weather

January 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Winter driving tips from the Iowa DOT
Fill your vehicle’s gas tank. Before traveling in winter weather, always keep your vehicle’s gas tank nearly full and make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.  Use your vehicle’s safety equipment. Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen. Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seat belts, and any children are in their child safety seats.

Never use cruise control during winter weather. Your vehicle’s cruise control sensors may not work properly if the tires are traveling on packed snow or ice. This can cause your vehicle to increase speed and increase the danger of a crash.

Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This kit should contain items to help sustain your life and the lives of your passengers should your vehicle become stranded. These items can include: booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel. Sufficient supplies should be in the kit for all persons traveling in the vehicle.

Use caution when approaching or following a snowplow. Snowplows generally operate at much slower speeds than other traffic. Snowplows can be forced sideways when clearing hard-packed drifts and generate a “snow cloud” that may impair the vision of drivers in nearby vehicles. Remain a safe distance behind the snowplow, pass only when clear; and never continue to drive alongside a plow. Allow plenty of space when passing the snowplow because the wing of the plow blade extends out to the side of the truck. Do not cut back into the lane of traffic too closely in front of a snowplow truck because the blade also extends in front of the truck.

Remember the slogans, “Ice and Snow …Take It Slow” and “Don’t crowd the plow.”

Check on the latest travel conditions. Visit www.511ia.org or call 511 (in Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide). You can also receive 511 traveler information via Twitter or text message. Visit the 511 website and click on the “Twitter” icon to select your desired Twitter feeds. Feeds are available for six Iowa metropolitan areas (Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Quad Cities, Sioux City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo), each of the state’s 99 counties, all traffic alerts and breaking news.