On December 3, 2014

Vermonters encouraged to prepare for winter driving

By Mark Bosma

Snow could affect holiday travel. A snowy Wednesday and Thursday leading up to the Thanksgiving Day feast created challenges for travelers. It’s important in Vermont to prepare for winter driving and the heightened risks on the road that are inherent to the time of year when we see snow and ice on the roads.

Drivers should monitor forecasts during the upcoming weeks and adjust travel times accordingly based on conditions. Now and throughout the winter you should always build in extra travel time to allow for slower speeds in difficult conditions. When on the road you should also leave extra space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to allow for longer braking distances.

For weather and other alerts direct to your cell phone or email, sign up for a free Vermont Alert account at https://vtalert.gov. You select how you wish to receive alerts and which alerts you want. For road conditions visit 511vt.com or call 511.

Note: 9-1-1 should be used for emergency situations only, NOT road conditions.

Automobile safety tips

  1. Have a well-stocked winter emergency car kit (below).
  2. Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions.
  3. Let others know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
  4. Allow extra time. The first half-inch of snow is sometimes the most slippery. Allow adequate braking distance from the car in front of you.
  5. Slow down. Many times hazards like black ice are not seen until it is too late. Bridges and overpasses can freeze up sooner than roadways.
  6. Be extra alert. Snowdrifts and snowbanks can hide children or other vehicles.
  7. Yield to snowplows and give them plenty of room to safely do their job. Be patient and follow at a safe distance.
  8. Travel during daylight hours, and if possible, take another person with you.
  9. If you do become stuck, ensure your exhaust pipe is free of obstructions like snow and able to vent. Dangerous carbon monoxide can incapacitate you if it is unable to vent out of the car.
  10. Keep your gas tank at least half-full at all times if possible.
  11. Install snow tires with adequate tread and pressure.
  12. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Keep all windows clear of snow and ice and keep your headlights and taillights clear, as well.
  13. Check your antifreeze, battery, windshield wipers and wiper fluid.

Winter emergency car kit

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Windshield scraper & brush
  • Charged cell phone/automobile charger
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Road flares/reflectors
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Extra clothes (include rain gear, boots, mittens, socks)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Shovel
  • Sand/road salt/cat litter for generating traction
  • Tire chains or traction mats
  • Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Tow rope
  • Brightly colored cloth to utilize as a flag
  • Road maps

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