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Winter driving tips

November 10, 2011

Snow is in the forecast again for this weekend as a fast-moving strong storm system moves across Eastern Idaho Friday and Saturday, and the Idaho State Police wants to remind motorists that it's that time of year again when we have to re-train ourselves for winter driving. The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. But if you can't here is a list of things to do or not to do to make your travel safer.

* Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights - even the hood and roof - before driving.

* Pay attention. Don't try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.

* Leave plenty of room for stopping.

* Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows. If you approach a plow or maintenance vehicle during a winter storm and decide to change lanes be extra careful. The passing lane may be in worse shape than the driving lane. There may also be a snow ridge between the two lanes. Avoid making an abrupt lane change. Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow.

* Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.

* Watch for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.

* Don't use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

* Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won't help you stop any faster. Many 4x4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop. Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle's traction. Your 4x4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.

* Do not pump anti-lock brakes. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to "stomp and steer!"

* Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split-second extra time to react safely.

* Go slow!

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