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Friday, February 28, 2014



Planning on driving up to the Snow during the Winter Months? Stay safe while traveling in cold, wet, and possibly icy conditions: it’s important to plan ahead and leave distance around your vehicle for a Safe and Happy New Year! Keep reading our GoLaw.com BLOGS to get more Travel Safety Tips for your travels during this holiday season.

Read original article on Yahoo.com
Ten Safety Tips for Winter Road Trips
Charlotte Walters, Yahoo Contributor Network
Driving on Ice
Winter Safety
Car Kit

10 Tips for Safe Winter Travel on U.S. Roads

1.) Have Good Maps
Before taking a road trip in the winter, always map out your routes ahead of time. Do not assume that your GPS devices will always work during the trip. Have paper maps with marked routes that at least one of you understands. In winter weather, staying on the interstates instead of detouring around large cities is usually a good idea. It is better to be stuck in traffic and be near emergency services than to be stranded on a lonely or dangerous side road. Bring along printouts with information about possible stopping points along the way. Call ahead to hotels and get information or make reservations. Have some alternative options.

2.) Share Contact Information
Give a copy of your plan to a reliable friend or relative. The information should include an estimated arrival time at various major points along the way, and contact information such as cell phone numbers or the phone numbers of places where you plan to stay overnight. You should plan to contact the friend/relative from time to time with a progress report, or if you are significantly delayed. If there are people waiting for you at the final destination, they should receive copies of the travel plan and contact information as well.

3.) Prepare the Vehicle
Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a tune-up. Check belts and replace if worn. Carry extra belts if possible. Clean the battery terminals using a baking soda mixture and a small brush. During the trip, check all fluids regularly, including the windshield washer fluid. Carry extra oil. Always keep the gas tank at least half full. This helps to keep water vapor out of the gas line, and if you were stopped in your vehicle for a long time, this would allow you to run the heater at intervals.

4.) Winter Emergency Car Kit
As every winter approaches, any vehicle that will be traveling in winter weather should have an emergency kit, which includes road flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, spare tire with correct pressure, can of tire inflate/sealant, folding shovel, chains, traction mats (or kitty litter), ice scraper, extra wiper blades, can of de-icer or WD-40, insulated pliers, screwdrivers, socket wrench, roll of wire, bungee cords, duct tape, 50ft cord (used as a homing line in blizzard), and an empty container to carry gas or water. Remember never to carry extra gasoline inside a vehicle! This list may seem large, but it is incomplete. These are just the basics. If your vehicle is stopped in an ice storm or blizzard, move some of these items inside the car; your trunk may freeze shut.

5.) Pack for Winter Safety
These "people items" could be included in the emergency car kit above. Carry an orange reflective emergency vest, "Help Needed" windshield shade sign, first aid kit and manual, flashlight with fresh batteries, instant chemical hot packs and body warmers like mylar space blankets, plastic bags to wear between layers of clothing to repel moisture and retain body heat, emergency drinking water, and non perishable, high calorie foods.

6.) Internet and Radio Communications
Always be sure to check the Travel Alerts on the Internet if you have the capability, or keep the car radio tuned to the designated AM channels specifically for road travelers. Every U.S. State has their own Department of Transportation (DOT) website; look for a button or link titled Travel Alerts. This will provide information on specific parts of certain state and interstate roads most likely to be affected by weather, construction, and road closures.

Because cell phones have limited battery life, it is wise to have a backup means of communication. The inexpensive choice is FRS radio; you can find these at the local Radio Shack or Wal-Mart. They run on ordinary batteries. FRS Channel 1 is the nationwide emergency channel. The range is limited, and works best using line-of-sight, so climbing to a high spot will help the signal reach farther. CB radio is a bit more expensive, and some units are battery-powered. Channel 9 is the nationwide emergency channel, however Channel 19 is the most commonly monitored channel (language can be foul) and is used by most long-haul truckers. Generally, truckers are friendly, helpful, skilled people to have around during a vehicle emergency.

7.) Heavy Snow or Blizzard
Despite the best-laid plans, you may drive into dangerous snowy conditions. If you can see the vehicle in front of you, keep going forward, because if you stop on the road you could be struck from behind. If the snow is totally blinding, try to pull over just enough to get out of the path of other vehicles and wait out the storm. Pulling too far off the road might cause you to go down an embankment. If your vehicle becomes stranded in deep snow, stay with your car. Attach a bright marker of some kind. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow before starting the engine to run your heater. A plugged exhaust causes carbon monoxide gas to build up inside the car, quickly killing those inside!

8.) Icy Driving Conditions
Before you leave on a road trip, review with all the drivers of the vehicle how to correctly brake and steer in slippery conditions. Depending on whether it has anti-lock brakes and front or rear wheel drive, methods will vary. Cars are heavy objects. They have a lot of inertia. On ice, when something heavy is moving without any friction to slow it down, it just keeps on going! The heavier the vehicle, the more inertia it has. When driving on ice, slow the speed gradually to a crawl. Go twice as slow as you think you need to. Approach a stop or a turn by starting to slow down at least a half block early. Avoid hills whenever possible. If the car gets stuck, use a mat or sprinkle cat litter under the drive wheels for traction.

9.) Driving Near Trucks and Snow Plows
Remember that big trucks take longer to stop, and they are top heavy so that having to swerve out of the way could cause them to tip over. Do not cut in front of them! If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it or use caution when passing. The road behind a snowplow will be safer to drive on. Don't tailgate the plow; stay about 15 car lengths behind it. The plow operator's field of vision is limited, so don't assume that they can see you.

10.) Suggested Cross Country Routes
Traveling from San Francisco on the west coast to Boston on the east coast, the best winter routes would include the following: Interstate Route 40 avoids the majority of mountains and keeps the elevations generally lower, making it the best interstate choice in the wintertime. The highest elevation would be just over 7000 ft, at the western edge of the Great Plains leaving New Mexico. I-40 merges with I-75 in Tennessee. At Knoxville, stay on I-75 until it approaches Toledo, Ohio. Take I-80 going east toward Cleveland. This route generally stays open in winter although it is a northerly route, but the advance warning system for severe winter weather travel is a good one.

From Cleveland to Boston, continue east on I-80 all the way into New Jersey, avoiding some of the more troublesome northern routes. At this point you can turn onto I-95 and go right up the coast to Boston. While I-95 is heavily traveled and can have stoppages, you will never be far from emergency services and towns with nice accommodations if the weather turns nasty.

Even if a more southerly route is chosen in the wintertime, an Arctic Low could dip down and bring an ice storm to areas that would normally be temperate. No matter how safe you think a winter route might be, always check the weather forecasts and follow the ten travel tips above to keep you and your passengers safe.

If you or a member of your family or friends are involved in a motor vehicle accident–collision, or other injury producing event caused by the negligence of others, call the Law offices of Mark A Doughty at 530-674-1440. Mark A Doughty has been practicing law in California since 1979. He has served the people of northern California and represented them without a fee (in accident cases) unless he recovers for them. For more information, please see http://GoLaw.com 

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