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Some tips for winter driving

November 10, 2022

By Sheriff Dave Kramer

It is no surprise at this point; winter has arrived on area roads. For those who are new to driving on winter roads, we would like to offer some pointers to make your travels safer for you and the other drivers who share the road with you. The main takeaway for snow and ice covered roads if very simple, slow down, keep more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, allow more distance for stopping and have proper tires on your vehicle.

Here are some safety tips and information gathered from different sources online and experience:
  • Drive slowly- Adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on ice or snow.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly- apply gas slowly to avoid breaking traction, and take time to slow down for a stop sign, often times the roadway is slicker near the intersections.
  • Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside the truck. Snow plows travel slowly. Make wide turns, stop often and overlap lanes. If you find yourself behind a snow plow stay far enough behind it and use caution if you pass the plow.
  • You can quickly go through a lot of windshield wiper fluid in a single snowstorm. Make sure your vehicle’s reservoir is full of “winter” fluid with de-icer, consider having an extra gallon in your vehicle. Consider installing heavy duty winter windshield wipers.
  • Make sure that you have good winter tires on, talk to one of the tire shops if you have questions. All season tires are really considered more of a three-season tire, a winter tire is more than just the traction, but the rubber compound is designed to function better in cold conditions. Some tests have shown that a winter tire can improve stopping distance by up to 30-percent over other tires on cold roads.
  • Keep your fuel tank always above half a tank.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage, and never warm your vehicle up leaving it unlocked or you may find your vehicle stolen.
  • Make sure your vehicle is warmed up and the windows cleared before driving.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
  • If your vehicle shows you the outside temperature, do not rely on it for determining if there is black ice on the road (road may appear wet, but is a sheet of ice). The road surface may be frozen even though the outside temperature reading in your vehicle shows above freezing.
  • Be aware that bridges and overpasses freeze and become slick before other road surfaces.
  • Always wear your seat belts, and keep your phone on your person. We have responded to several roll over accidents where the drivers phone was thrown out of the vehicle or they were unable to find in the vehicle after an accident. The Boundary County Sheriff’s Office also has text 911. Some areas of our county you may not be able to get a cell phone call out, but you may be able to get a text message out. In an emergency if you text 911 it will come in to our dispatch center. There are still some parts of our county where text or calls from a cell phone may not get out, but text messages are an option to try if the cell call does not get out.

Some things to consider having in your vehicle at all times during the winter driving season:
  • A snow shovel, broom and ice scraper. Remove all the snow from your roof, headlight and taillights before driving. You don’t want a foot of snow that was on your roof sliding off and blinding the person that was following you.
  • Have some sand or kitty litter in your vehicle in case your vehicle gets stuck, both will help provide traction on ice. Place the sand or kitty litter under the drive wheels, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly, do not spin the tires because you likely will did deeper into the snow making it more difficult to move on.
  • Jumper cables, flashlight and emergency markers.
  • Blankets to help keep you warm in case you slide off the road, it may be awhile before help arrives. Water, energy bars, and any necessary medication.

If the weather looks really bad, or the weather forecast is showing a storm coming in consider if you really need to make that trip now, or can it be done the next day. If you don’t have to drive in a storm stay home and enjoy another cup of hot chocolate or coffee and make the trip at a time when the roads are better.

Another reason for driving slower in the winter is to allow more reaction and stopping time should a deer or moose step out into the roadway in front of your vehicle.

There are some good online videos on how to control your vehicle when it starts to skid on icy roads and we would recommend watching some of these videos so that you will be better prepared when it happens to you.

Stay safe and drive carefully, we hope these pointers help keep you on the road this winter.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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