Basic winter safety driving tips: In a word...
Prepare, prepare, prepare

As Idaho motorists take to the roads this winter, ITD reminds them that a few extra precautions can make winter journeys safer.

Plan ahead. Before heading out on the state's roadways, dial 511 or visit on the Web for updates on winter road and weather conditions, emergency closures and access to tourist information.

Call B4 U Go. Before leaving home, check the 511 Traveler Services Web site at or dial 511. Reports are available on highway conditions, mountain passes and weather. More than 130 camera images from throughout Idaho also are available on the Web site and on the new Mobile Web application.

Slow down. Leave a few minutes early and allow extra time to get to destinations. It is better to be a few minutes late than put oneself and others at risk by driving too fast for the conditions.

Buckle up. Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest safety precautions one can take. Also, children must be properly secured in a safety seat that is right for their age and weight.

Use extra caution. Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges. Take caution against black ice. Drive less than the speed limit if conditions warrant.

Drive safely around snowplows. (See related story) Keep at least two car lengths behind snowplows for every 10 mph of car speed. Do not pass a snowplow, and never drive through the snow being ejected from the plows because the force of the spraying snow can throw a car out of control.

Be prepared. Winter conditions increase the importance of a well-maintained vehicle. Keep car windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice. Make sure tires and brakes are ready for the extra demands of winter. Visit a mechanic and ensure car battery and fluid levels are good and heating units are working.

Keep emergency supplies in the car: (See related story) Flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kit, pocket knife, blanket or sleeping bag, extra clothing, small sack of sand or cat litter for generating traction under vehicle wheels, small shovel, bottled water, booster cables, rope, energy bars or other food, brightly-colored scarf to attract attention in case of an emergency, waterproof matches or cigarette lighter and a map of the area.

Keep in touch: If carrying a cell phone, make sure it is charged and have a list of emergency telephone numbers available. Also, share travel plans with family or friends. Include estimated departure and arrival times, route and destination.

Don't drink and drive. Idaho law enforcement officers will be increasing patrols to catch and arrest drunk drivers this season. Be safe by designating a sober driver before traveling to any party or event involving alcohol.

Published 11-19-2010