How to Drive Safely in Winter Weather Conditions

By Jenna Rossiter | November 21, 2016 8:27pm

by Rachel Rippetoe / The Beacon

You're in your car to hit the slopes. A sign flashes up above you that reads, “Chains required beyond this point.” Your day of snow and fun has quickly been denied.

Winter weather is quickly approaching, and some aren’t fully prepared for the stormy conditions all over the country.

Here are some tips from the experts that can be useful to stay prepared whether you’re driving around campus, up the mountain or back home this winter:

1. Our phones can actually be helpful for staying up-to-date on current weather and road conditions, not just to whip out the latest Snapchat filter. For Oregon road conditions, download the Twitter App, if you don’t already have it, and “follow” TripCheck to be sure the roads are safe before you head out. Always be sure to check updates before you start driving.

2. It’s always a good idea to keep portable phone chargers and car chargers with you since unpredictable weather can happen anywhere. You don’t want to be stranded in a snowstorm with a dead cell phone.

3. Every state has a resource for road conditions. For the many students traveling back to Washington for break, be sure to check out the Washington State Department of Transportation updates.

4. American Automobile Association (AAA) not only gives drivers safety tips, but it also gives some helpful tips on how to keep your car in good condition during winter weather including replenishing the fluids in your engine, specifically anti-freeze. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the fluids in your engine.

5. Although most of UP students are on a college budget, AAA also advises drivers to keep your gas tank full when possible to prevent ice in the tank and engine lines, and always check your exhaust pipe to keep it free of snow or ice.

6. Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy or snowy weather to avoid it sticking.

7. AAA says it’s always a good idea to keep an emergency pack with food, water, flashlights, blankets and a cellular phone with emergency numbers in your car at all times.

8. Regularly check your tire pressure and windshield wipers. Also check headlights and brake lights for best visibility.

9. While many people don’t think to wash their car in the fall and winter, it’s still important to clean the salt off your car and prevent rust damage in the snowy parts of the country. For those going home to warm states like California, the salt in the air can also cause damage over time.

10. Visit Oregon Department of Transportation to learn how to put on snow chains. The use of studded tires is discouraged because of their damage to highways, however, chains and non-studded tires are a good idea and often required when driving in snowy conditions.

Taking precautions in winter weather can help you avoid getting stuck in sticky situations and resorting to techniques like using a leaf blower to heat up your frozen-over car.

Stay warm, Pilots! And stay safe.