Winter Driving Tips

It's that time of the year to start thinking snow! Whether we like it or not, it will come. Maybe not in Redmond, but certainly in the surrounding area. Be prepared for driving in unpleasant weather.

Officer in snow

Winter Driving TipsWinter Driving Tips

Driving safely in icy or snowy conditions requires special care. Losing control of an automobile on wet pavement is a frightening experience, but good drivers adjust their speed to road conditions.

You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels; maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal. If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the automobile to go. For vehicles without anti-lock brakes, avoid using brakes and steer into the skid. This will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.

Before DrivingBefore Driving

  • Call the Mountain Pass Report at 206 DOT-HIWY or 1-800-695-ROAD. Or, view mountain pass information online.
  • Carry chains at all times when traveling over mountain passes.
  • Have an updated map.
  • Have adequate winter clothing for possible emergency use.
  • Clear your windows, outside mirrors, and lights of ice and snow.
  • Replace worn wiper blades and be sure your washer fluid reservoir is filled with cleaning fluid (not just water).
  • Make sure car batteries have a full charge. Battery power decreases in cold weather.
  • Have a full tank of gas.
  • Have a cell phone.

While TravelingWhile Traveling

  • Wear your seat belt at all times.
  • Keep your radio on for motorist advisory information.
  • Watch for traction device advisory signs in mountain pass areas.
  • Don't change driving speed or direction suddenly. Traction is maintained better with slow, gradual moves.
  • Don't be in a hurry. Allow extra time when driving on snow or ice.
  • Use low beams headlights when driving in snow or fog for better visibility.

If You Encounter An EmergencyWhile Traveling

  • Get your vehicle as far off traveled lanes as possible and turn emergency flashers on.
  • Use a cell phone or Citizen Band (CB) radio to call for assistance. Be aware of your location while traveling so you can accurately relay your position. CB operators should summon assistance. CB channel 9 is monitored by the Washington State Patrol and CB organizations on a 24-hour basis to provide emergency assistance.
  • Raise the hood of your car and attach a light colored piece of cloth to the radio antenna to signal for assistance.
  • Stay in your vehicle and wait until help arrives. If you must run the motor for heat, keep a window open slightly and be sure the exhaust pipe does not become blocked with snow.

Other General TipsOther General Tips

  • Be sure your tires have adequate tread to provide traction on slippery surfaces.
  • If you drive a front wheel drive vehicle, be familiar with the different handling characteristics in slippery conditions.
  • Don't drive on icy or snowy days if possible. Take public transportation if you can or arrange to ride in a carpool or vanpool.
  • Use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes when available and observe restrictions on them even if pavement markings are obscured by snow.
  • If road conditions worsen while you are at work, don't leave early. Give maintenance crews time to clear the roads of snow.
  • Don't follow too closely behind sand trucks and snow removal equipment. They may stop suddenly, or you could be showered with sand. Don't pass equipment unless you can do so easily and quickly. Equipment operators will try to pull over and let traffic by every few minutes.