With December underway and winter officially beginning December 21, KHP is sending some reminders about traveling in the winter weather. Every year, whether it is the first winter storm of the season, or the last storm, the Patrol and our law enforcement partners from across the state work numerous traffic crashes related to the weather.
Some of the most important things to remember when traveling in adverse conditions are to slow down, turn off your cruise control, turn your headlights on, and dress appropriately for the conditions. It is Kansas law that you must turn on your headlights if your windshield wipers are on continuously. By turning off your cruise control, you will have complete control of your vehicle’s acceleration during adverse conditions on the roads.
As motorists venture out during one of the first winter storms of the season, the following tips are offered:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter travel by replacing wiper blades; ensuring tires have good read and air pressure; and by checking the vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment. You also may want to consider adding a shovel to your trunk, weight such as sand bags in the bed of a pickup (to help with traction and control), and carrying a sand/salt mixture in your trunk to help melt the snow and gain traction.
- The vehicle should also be stocked with items that would be beneficial if you were involved in a crash, or your vehicle became stuck. Beneficial items would be: bottled water, blankets, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
- You should try to keep your gas tank full, as this adds additional weight for traction in adverse conditions, and lessens the possibility of running out of fuel if you became stuck for a long period of time.
- Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights, and use your headlights to provide optimum visibility. Make sure the entire window is clear. Having only a small portion cleared could contribute to a crash if you don’t see another vehicle. You could also be ticketed.
- Accelerate and brake gently, and increase following distance between you and other vehicles. You should increase your following distance by at least one, if not two, additional seconds when driving in adverse conditions (Standard following distance for good weather is three seconds.). Be particularly cautious on bridges, and in curves, as they are often the slicker parts of the road. If your vehicle loses traction and begins to slide, steer in the direction you want to go.
- Allow for more time when traveling to and from work, home, school, or other activities. Check the weather before you go to bed, and set your alarm clock early if a winter storm is expected.
- Always wear your seat belt, and properly secure children in the proper child safety seats.
- Have a plan for your children should they get sent home from school early.
- If you are involved in a traffic crash, or need assistance, call 911, or contact the Patrol at *47 from your cell phone. Call *KTA if you are on the Kansas Turnpike.
- To find out road conditions, call 511 from a landline or cellular phone, or view conditions at: http://www.kandrive.org.
The following sites offer great information for preparing your home and vehicle for winter weather: