Unable to gain traction on Main Street a few years ago, this semi had to put on chains in the middle of the road. Be prepared for winter driving conditions this season. Practice putting on chains and allow for enough time to reach your destination. File photo

Tips for safe driving this winter

With the rain and snow comes the potential for slick roads.

According to the Caltrans website, preparation is key when it comes to driving in winter weather conditions.

Before heading out onto the roads, drivers are encouraged to not only look up road conditions, but to prepare ahead of time for inclement weather.

The Caltrans Highway Information Network can be reached at (800) 427-7623 and cameras showing road conditions may be found at quickmap.dot.ca.gov.

“Winter driving on roads and highways in the snowcapped mountains of California can be a pleasant adventure or it can be frustrating, tiring and sometimes even hazardous,” read the website.

Before making trips in snowy, icy conditions, drivers should ensure brakes, windshield wipers, defrosters, heaters and exhaust systems are in good condition. Antifreeze levels should also be checked.

Each vehicle should have a set of chains, and tires should be properly inflated with the tread in good condition.

An ice scraper, broom for brushing off snow and a shovel to free a snowed-in vehicle are also handy to keep the car.

“It is also a good idea to take along water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them,” the website continued.

Caltrans also encouraged motorists to keep an extra car key in your pocket as many drivers have unintentionally locked themselves out when putting on chains.

When it comes to actually driving in the hazardous conditions, drivers are encouraged to allow for enough time to reach a destination and to keep the gas tank full.

In addition to slowing down, sometimes even less than the posted speed limit if conditions warrant the decrease in speed, drivers should remain more observant of other vehicles and surroundings, as visibility may be restricted.

Also, snowplows, salt brine trucks, trucks and equipment operators should be given plenty of space to remove snow or sand roads.

Driving with chains
If you do not know how to put on chains, practice before taking a trip in inclement weather, even if you believe you won’t need them.

“If you use the services of a chain installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer’s badge number on it. Remember, chain installers are independent business people, not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later.

Chain installers are not allowed to sell or rent chains,” read the website.
When driving with chains on, the speed limit in California is 25 or 30 miles per hour.