Winter is here!
This year winter solstice began on December 21, 2017. Driving in the winter can be difficult. We want to discuss some helpful tips to drive during winter weather.
We know that it is common in Washington to have black ice. Black ice is a thin coating of glaze ice on the roads. Although the ice itself is not black it is usually visually transparent which allows the black road underneath to be seen. Thus, it is important to be aware of black ice when temperatures get low. The National Safety Council has 5 tips for driving on black ice specifically.
- Keep at least a 5 second following distance from the vehicle in front of you. Why? It takes twice as long to stop on black ice.
- Do not hit the brakes on ice to avoid skidding. It is better to hold your steering wheel steady.
- In the early morning, be more vigilant. This is when the air temperature rises faster than the pavement’s temperature.
- When driving across overpasses, bridges or through tunnels take more precautions.
- If you start to feel your car sliding, do not overcorrect your steering.
We have a few other good tips. So that you do not have to rush leave early. This can help reduce the risk of sliding on any black ice due to your speed. Make sure you are not distracted while driving and wear your seatbelt!
You can find more information about black ice from Accuweather here: https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/black-ice-driving-dangers/22052530
Snow and Other Winter Conditions
When the roads are wet and slick it is important to take extra care when you are driving. First, make sure to always begin any winter weather travel with a full tank of gas. When planning your drive, you should check the traffic and weather reports. You can do this by checking with your local news station or radio. Another great alternative is to check Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website: //www.wsdot.com/traffic/. Here you will find traffic cameras, information on the mountain passes, and travel alerts.
If you are in the Seattle area specifically, the City of Seattle has created a winter weather response map. Their interactive map can help you plan your route and see what roads have been treated. Additionally, the City of Seattle creates an annual winter weather brochure which has important numbers and website information. Their site is https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/safety-first/winter-weather-response.
If you do not want to drive, you can take public transportation. Both Snohomish County and King County Metro Transit have website that update you with their snow routes and how to plan your trip using public transportation. If you are not in either King or Snohomish County, make sure to for your county’s winter weather response options.
Snohomish County: https://snohomishcountywa.gov/1815/Transit
Winter Weather Vehicle Kit
Before you even know the road and weather conditions you can prepare a winter weather kit. This kit is what you can carry in your car to use in case of a winter weather emergency. Being prepared in advance will help secure your safety during an emergency.
- First Aid Kit
- Water and Snacks
- Flashlight (with back up batteries)
- Boots, gloves, warm clothes, blanket
- Ice scrapper/snow brush
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains
- Music and games
- Cell phone charger
- A shovel
- Fuel container