The first step to safe winter driving is to properly prepare yourself and your vehicle before heading out. Check to ensure that you have plenty of fuel, give yourself ample time, check weather reports or road webcams in areas that you will be traveling, completely defrost your vehicle, tell someone your projected route and give them a time line of where you will be and when. Pack the following items in case you become stranded: cell phone, food supplies, cat litter or sand, a small shovel, ice scraper, warm change of clothes, heavy coats, wool blankets, gloves and hats, flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, water for drinking and an AM/FM radio.
Safe driving in the snow and ice:
• Decrease your speed.
• Leave extra room for stopping distance, more than usual.
• Apply your brakes gently when stopping to avoid skidding or sliding. If you begin sliding ease off your brakes.
• Use your headlights, even during daylight hours.
• Clean snow and ice off your vehicle prior to driving, including your headlights and taillights.
• Use low gears to assist with keeping traction, especially on hills.
• Never use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
• Use extreme caution on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads.
• If you encounter a plow or sanding truck, stay well behind them. The drivers have limited visibility and the road ahead of them is worse than the road behind them.
• Don't assume that your vehicle can handle all conditions, even front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on the peninsula's roads.
What to do in a skid:
Rear wheel skid:
• Remove your foot from the accelerator and steer in the direction that you want your front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left or if your rear wheels are sliding right, steer right.
• Standard brakes: Pump gently, but with anti-lock brakes apply steady pressure - you will feel them pulse, which is normal.
Front wheel skid:
• Take your foot off the gas, shift to neutral. Don't steer immediately. The wheels sliding sideways will slow the vehicle and traction will return. Once you feel traction return, steer in the direction you want to go. Put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch and accelerate gently.
What to do if you get stuck:
• Do not spin your wheels, it will dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels side to side to push the snow away. Lightly push on the gas to ease your vehicle out. If your vehicle transmission won't be harmed, rock your vehicle by shifting from forward to reverse, accelerating lightly in each gear until the vehicle gets going. (Check your owner's manual).
What to do if you get stranded:
• Do not leave your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are and exactly how far away help is. Only leave if you are absolutely certain it will improve your situation. Light flares and put them a safe distance from each end of your vehicle. Hang a bright colored cloth on your antenna.
• Make sure your vehicle's exhaust pipe is clear and not blocked. Run your vehicle sparingly depending on the amount of fuel in the tank, a good recommendation is to run the vehicle once every hour for 10 minutes to use the heater to protect from frostbite and hypothermia.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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