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Winter Travel

It is no surprise that storms, snow, rain, fog, and icy roads represent a huge traffic hazard. Whether just traveling to and from work, or planning an extended road trip, it is important to be vigilant!

  • 17% of all vehicle collisions happen during winter conditions
  • There are 156,164 crashes annually due to icy roads
  • Over 116,800 people are injured in car accidents on snowy or icy roads each year
  • More than 1,300 people die annually in collisions due to snow or icy pavement


Always check the weather forecast if traveling in the winter. If there is a storm in the forecast, it is always recommended to wait it out. If you must travel, make sure you communicate your transportation plans with someone before you leave. Update them with your departure time, estimated arrival time and the route you intend to take. Communication could save your life!

Having the appropriate emergency equipment on hand and easily accessible is crucial. The National Safety Council recommends having the following items with you at all times: Shovel, tire c

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hains, flashlight and extra batteries, reflective triangles or flares, first aid kit, non-perishables or high energy snacks and winter clothing such as, gloves, socks, hats, boots, jackets and spare blankets.

In addition to housing the appropriate emergency gear, your vehicle should also be up to date on annual maintenance. Below are some tips to help winterize your car:

  • Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops
  • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order
  • Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread pattern put on your car
  • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if needed
  • Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops
  • Check your wiper blades and replace if needed
  • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze

Before you embark on your journey, clean your vehicles external camera lenses and side view mirrors so your visibility isn’t diminished. Remove dirt, ice and snow from sensors to allow the assistive-driving features like automatic emergency braking and perimeter alarms, to work properly. In cold weather, you may want to warm up your vehicle before you drive it. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never leave a vehicle running in your garage-even with the garage door open.

You can educate yourself about your individual vehicles capabilities by utilizing the information provided in the link below. “My Car Does What” is a national campaign aiming to help educate drivers about the safety features built into vehicles.

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You’ve done all you can to prepare your  vehicle, you have checked the appropriate weather forecasts, planned your route and informed someone of your travel plans, but suddenly you find yourself in the 

Avoid using your parking brake to slow or stopmiddle of a dangerous snow storm! If you continue to drive, be sure to follow these basic winter driving tips:

  1. Do not use cruise control on snowy or icy roads, or rain-soaked roads awash with puddles or flowing water
  2. Accelerate and decelerate slowly
  3. Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds
  4. Know whether you have antilock brakes, which will “pump” the brakes for you in a skid
  5. Keep your gas tank at least half-full
  6. If you do get stranded, don’t try to push your vehicle out of the snow
  7. Signal distress with a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna, or use flares or reflective triangles

If visibility is restricted you should pull to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so, make sure your hazard lights are on! Do not attempt to drive until conditions improve and always stay inside your vehicle.

Test your knowledge.  Click here to take the Winter Travel Quiz.

Trinity County Office of Ed | 201 Memorial Drive | PO Box 1256 |  Phone (530) 623-2861 | FAX (530) 623-4489

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