Steps to stay safe on the roads this winter

Sean Quinn, CNW Reporter/For The Observer

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“We’re paid to risk our lives, but I don’t want anybody else to risk theirs,” trooper John Bryant, Washington State Patrol District 6’s Public Information Officer and Recruiter said.

The fog and snow that commonly creeps into the Kittitas Valley this time of year has arrived. With the winter weather’s arrival, it’s important to know how to drive safely.

Before even starting the engine of your car, Bryant suggests the following:

  • Check the WSDOT app, WSDOT website, or call 511 to find out about conditions on the various mountain passes and roads.
  • Carry chains in your car. Even if you have snow tires, chains are still required to be carried in vehicles traveling through passes.
  • Make sure all of your fluids including windshield washer, coolant and/or antifreeze, and gas is filled.
  • Make sure that all lights are operating properly. In thick fog, not having working lights means you’ll be driving blind and your car is invisible to other drivers.
  • Bring warm clothing, gloves and blankets. Chances are if you’re driving in the snow, you’re going to be going slow and you may have to exit your car to put chains on.
  • Be sure that your phone is charged prior to leaving.  You may have to call a tow or call 911 in case of an emergency. While you drive, keep the phone away from you. Don’t drive distracted.

After you have done the above and are on the road, remember when driving in the snow to slow down and stay calm. The highest cause of spin outs and accidents in winter weather are excessive speeding and tailgating. Break slowly because slamming on the breaks can cause your car to lose control.

Lastly, don’t forget there are other options if you aren’t comfortable driving in the snow. There are many buses and shuttles that go all over the state with experienced drivers and proper equipment. Do everything you can to be safe and avoid being stuck on the side of the road.

“If you’re on the roadway and stuck, we consider that an emergency. I-90 is a busy place you don’t want to get stuck on the shoulder. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous for us,” Bryant said.

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Steps to stay safe on the roads this winter