As I made my way home for Christmas by car, I encountered wintry conditions and cars overturned in ditches. Suddenly going home for the holidays was more of an act of survival than an anticipated journey. With more travelers hitting the roads this holiday season than going by plane, more and more drivers are battling the winter conditions on the roads. If you are contemplating traveling by car for New Year’s or even just into the first few months of the New Year, here are a few tips to pack with you in your vehicle to combat the winter wonderlands on the road.
Keep it slow: As I made my way from the southern United States, across the Midwest and out to Colorado, I saw more and more drivers going too fast on roads caked in ice and snow. If conditions are poor, you need to travel at slow speeds to avoid losing control of your vehicle. Vehicles driving too quickly on bad roads are only asking for trouble. You need to alto extra time for driving in wintry conditions as you often can’t travel at the speed limit.
Monitor the departments of transportation: For each state that I passed through, I kept up to date on road conditions by consulting their departments of transportation. While some states are better than others at updating the conditions of their roads in wintry weather, these websites allowed me to plan which route was less treacherous and hazardous. Some departments of transportation also offer hotlines you can call to ask about certain routes. Travelers going by car during the winter to their destinations need to stay ahead of the road conditions so that there are no surprises.
Don’t break on ice: As we drove from Oklahoma through Kansas, we were tasked with driving on black ice. Along the way, we witnessed cars that hit ice and would merely lay on the brakes. Experts strongly discourage you from hitting the brakes when you hit ice and snow. It is best to lay off the gas and the brakes if you encounter icy conditions on highways.
Stay on main roads: While you might want to get off the beaten track in the winter months and take alternative routes, this move is not always the smartest when the weather outside is frightful. Major roads and highways are always the first to be plowed and treated in poor conditions. Those smaller highways and back roads might be night and day compared to main interstates.
Research radio stations for road conditions before you take off: You have probably seen the signs along highways, telling you what radio station in the area to tune into for weather and road conditions. As I was traveling across the Midwest for Christmas, it seemed like these signs weren’t anywhere to be found. I only had noticed them in good conditions. Rather than trying to search for these stations as you drive in treacherous conditions, it is best to do a bit of research before you leave as to what these stations are on your route in case your cellphone doesn’t work properly.
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