Put the Happy Back in Your Holidays: Winter driving safety tips

Put the Happy Back in Your Holidays: Winter driving safety tips

Our region has already seen snow and fog affect holiday travel plans. Many remember that snowy Apple Cup day last Friday. According to Washington State Patrol, starting at noon, they responded to 59 car crashes in 24 hours.

Ahead of the next holiday, they’re offering safety tips for drivers to make sure families get to their destination safely. What a lot of people don’t realize, is some of the best ways to make your trip as easy as possible are things you can do, even before you leave your home.

“They try to drive like they normally would, whether that’s going to work or going somewhere for the holidays, and they don’t adjust their speed accordingly,” said Trooper Jeff Sevigney with Washington State Patrol.

WSP said if you’re driving in winter – act like it.

“Allow plenty of extra travel time and be sure that you slow down,” Trooper Sevigney said.

WSP said to keep in mind the route you’ll be taking and the conditions before you head to your destination. You can dial 511 or check out the WSDOT website. There, you can check the forecast and road conditions for passes you might drive through.

“Especially if you’re going somewhere that’s not familiar to you, make sure you have a general idea of your route before you go,” Sevigney said.

This includes carrying an emergency kit in case you get stuck, including blankets, water, a flashlight, first aid kit, road flares, medications, extra clothes, and some snacks. WSP also suggests having chains in your car.

The idea of putting chains on can be stressful, so we went to the experts to dummy the process down.

“You start out laying them down next to your tire,” said Jim Hilde, a mechanic at Mechanic’s Pride.

“Tuck them back in here,” Hilde said.

After, you can start rolling your car forward and snap the cables together.

“Get as much slack out of it as you can. Then come up to the front side and get it as tight as you can out here as well,” Hilde said.

The less slack in your cables, the more secure they’ll be to your tires. The key is to make sure the cables are on tight, so they don’t fall off as you drive.

“There’s a little s-hook here, that just holds that in place,” Hilde said.

Do it to all four tires – and you’re done. Mechanics said to keep the speed down to 30 mph, and try not to skid when you brake. They also recommend practicing in your garage, that way you’re not under pressure nor are you out on the road in the cold.

Most DOT requirements say while you don’t have to have the chains on your tires, it’s mandatory that you have them in your vehicle at all times, if you want to go over the passes – including Stevens and Snoqualmie Pass.

“The time that you need them and don’t have them is not the right time to want to have chains, so just throw them in there. You may or may not need them, but they can certainly help in an emergency,” Sevigney said.

Both NAPA Auto Parts and Les Schwab sell snow chains. The stores said you can buy chains and at the end of the season, if you end up not using them, you can take them back for a refund. Just make sure you save the receipt.

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