The winter road trip: long, family-packed car rides for holiday gatherings or ski-trips into the mountains. It is a time for scenic beauty, family memory making, but also a potentially dangerous time with snow, ice and slick road conditions. Here are a few pre-cautions to take before you hit the road to ensure you and your loved ones are prepared for the long trip this season:
- Before taking off always check road and weather reports, especially if driving over mountain passes and isolated areas. If you must travel through bad weather, be prepared for longer travel times and road closures. The Washington State Department of Transportation has a mobile app for iPhones and Android for statewide access to traffic alerts, cameras, ferry schedule and more.
- Check traction on tires and pressure levels. Good tires are important to winter driving. Always have chains in your vehicle, especially if the vehicle is not all wheel/four wheel drive. In Washington State, the penalty for not using chains when advised is a $500.00 fine. Lastly, know how to install chains before leaving on your trip.
- Visibility is also key to winter driving. Check headlights, blinkers and brake lights before trips. Wash your car before any trip to ensure windows are clear and headlights are bright. Ensure windshield wipers are working proper and windshield wiper fluids are topped off.
- Have an emergency kit in your car including flashlights, extra batteries, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, water, and non-perishable food. Many local auto supplies store have preassembled emergency kits.
- Before long road trips, have your vehicle checked by an automobile mechanic, including fluid levels and brakes. Breaking down on the side of the road in bad weather means increased risks and increased wait time for help.
- Pack extra blankets, clothes, gloves, food and water.
For more tips on winter driving, visit www.aaa.com for their complete list.
Most drivers will make it to their driving designation without any issues. However, it’s always best to prepare for the worst to stay safe this winter season. And while this last tip may not be on AAA’s list of winter road trip tips, we recommend bringing a good soundtrack.