Colorado's winter driving conditions can change from sunny to blowing snow in minutes. Be prepared at all times, but especially in winter. Know the road conditions, know your vehicle, use proper driving techniques for the conditions, and have the right emergency gear and equipment along with you. Below are some safe driving tips.
When you approach a snowplow from behind, pass with care and only when you can see the road ahead. You should not try and pass in blowing snow. There may be a vehicle in that cloud of snow! Allow more distance between you and the plow, they may be spreading sand or chemicals.
Be alert when you approach a cloud of snow that covers the road, especially on passing lanes of the interstates or freeways. Slow down and approach with caution. A snowplow may be clearing snow in that lane or preparing to turn around.
Because winter is so rough on equipment, you should regularly check the wipers, tires, lights, and fluid levels (radiator, windshield washer, power steering, oil and brakes). Make sure brakes and transmission are working properly. If you suspect trouble, check it out. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Your vehicle should be equipped with a winter emergency survival kit. The following items are recommended:
- Ice scraper, snow brush, rags and paper towels.
- Jumper cables, basic tool kit, antifreeze, and no-freeze windshield washer fluid.
- Shovel, mats or old rugs for traction, tire chains, salt, sand or kitty litter.
- Blankets or sleeping bag and extra clothing including hats, socks, waterproof boots, coat and gloves.
- Non-perishable, high calorie food.
- Candles, waterproof matches and metal container such as a coffee can for melting snow.
- Flashlight and extra batteries, flares or roadway reflectors.
- Basic first aid kits and fire extinguisher.
Winter driving is often the most difficult driving due to blowing snow, icy slick spots and fewer daylight hours. When you are on the road you should:
- Buckle those seat belts! (It's the law).
- Be prepared to turn back or seek shelter if conditions become bad.
- Keep your windows clear of snow and ice. Do not start off until your windshield is defrosted.
- Drive slower and increase your following distance. Your speed should be adjusted for the conditions and flow of traffic.
- Roadway conditions may vary widely due to sun, shade, or roadway surface. Watch for slick spots especially on bridges, overpasses, and shaded spots.
- If the pavement is snow or ice covered, start slowly and brake gently. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection.
- Be careful after a minor accident. If you do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion the other driver and drive to the nearest police station, 24-hour store, service station, hospital, or fire station.
Stuck or Stranded
If your vehicle breaks down, pull as far off the road as possible. Your greatest personal danger at this point is that of being hit by a passing vehicle. Don't panic. Do not over exert yourself, especially when shoveling snow or pushing a stalled or stuck vehicle.
If you are stranded on a well traveled road, wait for assistance from police or other emergency service providers. Raise the hood, turn on the dome light and flashers to make your vehicle more noticeable and attach a cloth to the antenna or windows.
Cell phone owners who see stranded motorists can do them a favor by calling and reporting the exact location and description of the vehicle.
When you return home from a winter trip, wash your vehicle to remove dirt and road salt. A coat of wax will help protect the finish from the effects of salt. Lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing.
We hope this information will help make your trip both safe and enjoyable.