Winter weather made its debut in recent weeks — better late than never — temporarily causing slick roads and blurred visibility.
As the season enters full swing, travel experts advise motorists to drive with caution and adjust their vehicles …
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Winter weather made its debut in recent weeks — better late than never — temporarily causing slick roads and blurred visibility.As the season enters full swing, travel experts advise motorists to drive with caution and adjust their vehicles for upcoming weather.“The Douglas County Sheriff's Office takes our roadway safety serious,” said Douglas County Traffic Sgt. Chris Washburn. “Your safety and the safety of your loved ones depends on your full attention to your driving.”Below are five tips from traffic experts to ensure safe travels this winter.Slow downManeuvering on ice and snow requires slower speeds.In an email correspondence, Washburn advised: “Increase your following distance and decrease your speed to allow more stopping room.”The American Automobile Association agrees.“The normal dry-pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds,” AAA's Winter Driving Tip webpage says. “This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.”AAA also tells motorists to accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying gas gradually is the “best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.”Everything — including accelerating, stopping and turning — takes longer on snow-covered roads than on dry pavement, AAA says.Check the dashboardDashboard warning lights and measurements go hand in hand with safe driving.A few quick tips from Washburn include: keep the windshield washer full, keep the gas tank above half, and use your windshield wipers and headlights when needed.AAA adds that motorists should make sure their tires are inflated, avoid using the parking brake in rainy or snowy weather, and refrain from using cruise control on any slippery surface.Pay attentionIn 2013, 3,154 nationally people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver — which includes activities such as texting or eating — and 424,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Washburn asks drivers to “put the cell phone down and please concentrate on safe driving habits.” Colorado law bans the use of cell phones while driving for motorists under 18 and texting for all motorists.AAA recommends that motorists avoid driving while fatigued.“Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter-weather tasks reduces driving risks,” the webpage says.Make a winter safety kitA motorist traveling in winter conditions should make a winter safety kit and keep it in his or her car, Washburn recommends. The kit should include, at minimum, blankets, non-perishable food, water and a flashlight.For long-distance winter trips, AAA says motorists should also include a cellular phone with AAA's number, blankets, gloves, hats and any needed medication.In case of emergencyIn Colorado, many escape to the mountains for the weekend to ski or snowboard. Motorists should be prepared if weather conditions escalate while driving.“If you are stranded or stuck on a winter road, only run your car periodically to keep warm,” Washburn said. “Stay with your vehicle and don't attempt to walk through a major storm. Help will arrive to you if you stay with your vehicle.”Motorists also should keep windows cracked while the motor is running to avoid carbon monoxide buildup in the vehicle, he said.Finally, when it comes to winter driving, AAA says:“Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don't tempt fate: If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.”
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