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    Essential Guidelines for Ensuring Safety and Effective Preparation

    5 Key Tips for Safe Winter Driving: Learn from the Experts

    Winter driving can be treacherous, especially when faced with snowy and icy conditions. To help drivers navigate these challenges, Todd Harris, president of the Pro Drive Racing School, recently conducted a class in safe winter driving in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Transportation. During the event, Harris shared valuable insights and techniques to enhance drivers’ skills and ensure their safety on the road.

    So, what is the most common mistake drivers make during the winter months? According to Harris, it’s overestimating their vehicle’s capabilities and their own driving skills. This misconception can lead to dangerous situations and a higher risk of accidents. To address this issue and promote safe driving practices, Harris emphasized the following five key tips for winter driving:

    1. Reduce your speed: It’s crucial to slow down and adjust your speed according to the road conditions. Snow and ice can cause your vehicle to lose traction, making it harder to control. By driving at a slower speed, you can maintain better control and react more effectively to unexpected situations.

    2. Keep your eyes up: Always look ahead and focus on the road as far down as possible. This allows you to anticipate any potential hazards or obstacles and gives you more time to react. By keeping your eyes up, you can stay prepared and avoid last-minute maneuvers that may lead to skids or accidents.

    3. Use smooth controls: When driving in winter conditions, it’s essential to use smooth and gentle actions with your steering, gas, and brake inputs. Abrupt movements can cause your tires to lose traction and slide, making it harder to maintain control of your vehicle. Smooth controls help ensure a steady and stable drive, even on slippery surfaces.

    4. Brake in a straight line: Before making a turn around a corner, it’s important to brake in a straight line. This technique allows you to reduce your speed before navigating the curve, minimizing the risk of skids or loss of control. By braking before the turn, you can maintain better traction and stability throughout the maneuver.

    5. Don’t overestimate your car’s capabilities or your own skills: It’s crucial to have a realistic understanding of your vehicle’s limitations and your own driving abilities. Overconfidence can lead to poor decision-making and reckless behavior on the road. By acknowledging your limitations, you can make safer choices and avoid unnecessary risks.

    In addition to these tips, the Oregon Department of Transportation recommends drivers to carry a “go-bag” in their vehicles during the winter season. This includes essential items such as a first aid kit, extra food and water, a working flashlight, car tools and equipment, extra clothing and blankets, and other necessities for travel. Other important items include a cellphone charger, ice scraper and snow brush, matches or a lighter, paper towels, and extra washer fluid.

    To further enhance your preparedness and safety while traveling in winter, ODOT provides the following additional tips:

    – Ensure your vehicle is in good operating condition, including clean headlights, good brakes, working windshield wipers, and tires with sufficient tread.
    – Slow down when approaching off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots where snow and ice tend to linger.
    – Plan your route using resources like Tripcheck.com, and begin your journey with a full fuel tank or charged vehicle.
    – Never pass a snowplow or any winter maintenance truck on the road.
    – Allow for extra stopping distance as there is less traction on slick and snowy roads.
    – Increase your visibility by turning on your headlights, especially in low-visibility conditions.
    – Carry chains and know how to use them.
    – If you feel tired, find a place to rest and wait out the storm before continuing your journey.
    – Allow extra time for your travels and be patient.

    Despite these valuable tips and advice, it’s important to note that ODOT recently announced limitations to their road maintenance services due to increased operating costs and declining fuel tax revenues. As a result, drivers may encounter more potholes and ruts on the roads, longer wait times for roads to reopen after a crash, lower speed limits due to poor pavement conditions, and fewer ODOT responders on the road. However, ODOT assures the public that they will continue to prioritize road safety and work diligently to keep roadways as safe as possible.

    In conclusion, safe winter driving requires a combination of cautious driving techniques, preparedness, and an understanding of the challenges posed by snowy and icy conditions. By following expert advice and tips, you can minimize the risks and enjoy a safe journey during the winter season. Stay informed, stay prepared, and stay safe on the roads!

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