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With snow forecast, polish your winter driving skills

Thursday, December 1, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

car and truck on snowy winter roadWinter wipeout season is underway in the mountains.

Not skiers tumbling down slopes. I mean wipeouts on I-90 and Snoqualmie Pass, where snow and ice caused several collisions and spinouts Wednesday night involving cars and semitrucks.

The State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Transportation closed I-90 in both directions at 7:30 p.m. between Ellensburg and Denny Creek, then reopened the freeway at 2:45 this morning.

With lowland snow forecast for our region on Monday, motorists should polish their winter driving skills. Some basic tips:

  • Before you leave home, don’t warm up your car on frosty mornings by running it unattended in the driveway. Car thieves cruise neighborhoods in cold weather just looking for an opportunity to jump in and drive away.

  • Slow your speed to match driving conditions, and leave extra room between vehicles when roadways are icy.

  • Bridges and overpasses freeze first and may be more slippery than the rest of the roadway, catching drivers off guard.

  • Know your brakes. Most vehicles today have antilock brakes, which require drivers to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

  • Be prepared. Keep blankets, snacks, water, flares, and a first-aid kit in your vehicle at all times.

  • semi that slid off icy roadAbandon your car safely. If you must abandon your car in the snow, pull as far off the roadway as possible, set your emergency brake, and turn on your flashers. Leave a note on the dash with your contact information.

  • Know what "chains required" really means.

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