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WINTER DRIVER TIPS FROM CALTRANS

Posted by Dale Gomes | Dec 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

  • Allow enough time. Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter than other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
  • Keep windshield and windows clear. You may want to stop at a safe turnout to use a snow brush or scraper. Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.
  • Slow down. A highway speed of 65 miles per hour may be safe in dry weather, but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
  • Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles that have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow moving equipment.
  • When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.
  • Give snowplows room to work.  A "strike team" may include several plow trucks, including Tow Plows and wing plows using multiple lanes on a major highway.  Stay at least four (4) car lengths back from snowplows and snow removal equipment.
  • Salt brine trucks as well as sand and cinder spreading trucks have signs saying "Stay Back". This is for your safety since material can be spread/sprayed across multiple lanes.
  • Equipment operators must focus on snow removal and cannot always watch out for motorists. Refrain from, or use extreme caution, when passing snow removal equipment.
  • Download Cal-Trans Winter Driving Brochure (PDF)

During the winter months, motorists may encounter traction chain controls in the mountain areas within California. When chain controls are established, signs will be posted along the road indicating the type of requirement.

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  • You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don't. You will usually have about a mile between "Chains Required" signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
  • Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions.
  • The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour.
  • When you put on chains, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.
  • Chain Installers: If you use the services of a chain installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer's badge number on it. Remember, chain installers are independent business people, not Cal-trans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Chain installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent chains.
  • When removing chains, drive beyond the signs reading "End of Chain Control" to a pull-off area where you can safely remove them

TAGS:  Car accidents, El Dorado County Safe Driving

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