Authorities are urging Front Range drivers to stay off the roads during this weekend snowstorm, which could bring at least 18 inches of accumulation to the Denver area with more in the foothills, those who venture out should be prepared for difficult, perhaps dangerous, situations.
What can I do to make sure my vehicle is ready?
Only all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles should be on the roads. Vehicles should have good tires, with adequate tread depth, and drivers are advised to drive cautiously and slow. The vehicle battery should have a good charge and be dependable, according to AAA Colorado. Windshield wipers should be good and keep the windshield fluid container full. Make sure the vehicle’s heater and defroster are in working order.
What should I take along in case an emergency arises?
Pack an emergency kit in advance before winter weather driving, according to AAA. The kit should include tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, a flashlight with extra batteries, an ice scraper, rags or paper towels, flares or other warning devices, booster cables and a first aid kit. Bring blankets, jackets, hats and gloves for yourself and your passengers. Take water and snacks, such as energy bars. Fully charge your mobile phones before you go. Have your gas tank at least above half-full.
Are there any last-minute precautions heading out?
If your car was parked outside, completely clear off all snow and ice before driving. Snow or ice that dislodges from a vehicle in motion can be a safety hazard, obstructing the driver’s view, and it can also be a danger to other motorists if it impacts their vehicles. Clearing vehicles is the law in Colorado, and drivers who don’t do it could face fines.
What should I expect out on the roads?
Your start should be gentle and gradual, so resist the urge to gun it. Go slow, don’t attempt to drive speed limits, and give yourself lots of braking distance, at least 12 to 15 seconds from the vehicle in front of you. If you head onto a highway, do not use cruise control, according to AAA. Braking should be steady, a pulsating brake pedal means the system is working. Do not remove your foot from the brake during a skid, pedal vibration is normal, don’t pump the brakes. In a skid, steer in the direction you want the car to go — do not slam the brakes.
Things to be aware of during winter driving
Highway lanes could be covered in snow, creating reduced lane recognition. On a highway, drive in the lane that has been most recently cleared. Avoid shifting lanes and give all other vehicles, especially emergency vehicles, plenty of room. Do not pass a snowplow when you see one. Eliminate distracted driving and put the smartphone away.
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