Winter Driving Tips
Snow on roads
It's been a while since Winter conditions have affected the Mother Lode. Some drivers will need a refresher course.
Sonora Police Officer Jamie Boeding was Wednesday's KMVL "Newsmaker of the Day".
Before snow the arrives, make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition. Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures.
You may need to add concentrated windshield washer fluid to the windshield washer fluid reservoir to prevent an icy windshield. More information about this type of windshield washer fluid can be found on the California Air Resources Board web site.
Check your tires and make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition.
Always carry chains. Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order. You might want to take along a flashlight and chain repair links. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
Other suggested items to carry in your car are an ice scraper or commercial de-icer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free you car if it is "snowed in", sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow and an old towel to clean your hands. It is also a good idea to take along water, food, a cell phone, warm blankets and extra clothing.
Put an extra car key in you pocket. A number of motorists have locked themselves out of their cars when putting on chains and at ski areas.
When driving in winter conditions, allow enough time. Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter that other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
Slow down. A highway speed of 55 miles per hour may be safe in dry weather, but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.
You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don't. You will usually have about a mile between "Chains Required" signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour.
When you put on chains, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.
The KVML "Newsmaker of the Day" is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.
Written by Mark Truppner