Whether it is by plane, train or automobile, practically every Oklahoman travels somewhere every day. With more people on the roadways there are more accidents, and the danger of accidents goes up as the temperature falls.
Winter road conditions require a driver's full attention. Staying off your cell phone, driving at a safe speed and buckling up will ensure you make it safely to your destination. To prepare for winter driving you should:
- Know Current Road Conditions
Tune into NEWS 9 or listen to 92.5 FM, 104.1 FM, 87.7 FM or 1520 AM for the latest weather and road conditions. You can also call the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety at 1-888-425-2385, or click here for a look at traffic accidents in Oklahoma City.
- Slow Down
Give yourself extra time to reach your destination when roads are slick, and if possible just stay home.
- Pack An Emergency Kit
Keeping a chain or rope, booster cables, blankets, emergency first aid kit and food in your vehicle. It's also a good idea to have an ice scraper and bottles of de-icer in preparation of the possibility of ice accumulation and snow.
- Prop Up Windshield Wipers
'Prop up' your vehicles windshield wipers so the blades don't freeze to the windshield.
- Keep Your Gas Tank Full
This will make your car heavier for winter driving, and in case of a breakdown it will ensure you can stay warm by periodically running the vehicle's heater.
- Have A Cell Phone Or CB Radio
Either can be a lifesaver for you or another stranded motorist in the event of an emergency or collision. It's also important to make sure your cell phone is fully charged in case you get stranded or stuck.
- Clear All Snow And Ice From Your Vehicle
Hitting the road with only a peep hole to drive from is very dangerous, not only to you but to other drivers on the road. All snow and ice should be cleared from your windows, lights, hood and roof before driving. This will keep chunks of ice from flying off your car and hitting another vehicle; it also keeps your field of vision clear while driving on icy roads. A News 9 producer suggests using trash bags to cover your vehicle's doors and windshield. When you're ready to leave, it's easier to just remove the trash bags rather than scrap the ice off the windows.
- Drive With Your Headlights On
Driving with your headlights on allows motorists see you.
- Do Not Travel In Low Visibility Conditions
If you can avoid driving during a snow storm or during thick fog you should. If you must go out, use your low beams while driving. The low beams will minimize reflection and glare; it will also slightly improve visibility and reduce eye fatigue.
- Watch For Icy Surfaces On Bridges
Bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly than the rest of the road. This is because cold air circulates around the structure freezing any precipitation that is on the bridge or overpass surface.
- Don't Get Overconfident With 4-Wheel Drive
Four-wheel drive helps you get going, but it will not help you stop any faster.
Traveling in the winter months in Oklahoma and the surrounding states can be dangerous, especially if there is snow and ice on the ground. To keep you safe city, county and state crews sand and salt the roads when conditions warrant. In Oklahoma City, crews patrol snow routes,and the Department of Transportation sends out plows and spreaders during severe winter weather.
Before heading out on any trip, especially in the winter, you should check out the latest Oklahoma weather forecast. Gary England and the NEWS 9 weather team man the weather center to keep you up to date on all the warnings, watches and weather notices.
When the mercury dips below freezing and snow is falling, a travel advisory may be issued. If you can avoid traveling during the advisory do so, but if you must be on the roads you can check the current road conditions by logging onto the Oklahoma Department of Transportation website or by calling (888) 425-2385. If you're traveling out of the state check the websites below or call the state's transportation departments:
If you have any other tips or suggestions for winter weather safety, share them with News9.com users in the comments section below.