Source: NBC RightNow
Winter road conditions are dangerous with compact snow and icy surfaces that create challenges for most drivers.
Washington State Department of Transportation Communications Consultant Summer Derrey says it has a motto for winter driving, “Ice and snow, take it slow.”
Derrey says, “a lot of wrecks could have been prevented this year with reduced speeds, having proper traction tires and chaining up when the rules say to.”
The weather impacts all of our region with many traffic issue happening in the mountain passes of the Cascades and the Blue Mountains.
Oregon Department of Transportation Region 5 Public Information Officer Tom Strandberg says to always use caution especially when the plow trucks are on the road.
Strandberg says, “Use basic common sense. If there’s a plow on the road and they’re plowing the snow, that means if you go around them you’ll be driving through the snow that hasn’t been plowed yet so it’s always safer to stay behind the plows even though they go slower they will eventually pull over and let the people pass.”
Derrey with WSDOT says a main reason for spinouts and accidents is from drivers with a lack of winter driving experience.
Derrey says, “We have observed a lot of younger drivers spinning out this year and so you know it might just be a good conversation to have. Just teaching your kids to learn how to drive in the snow and the ice. Taking them to an empty parking lot and having them spin out for a couple hours and practice that.”
Strandberg says being cautious is better than being confident.
Strandberg says, “You could still get stuck even though you’re all prepared and you feel like you’ve got the right tools.”
Both Derrey and Strandberg emphasize to keep chains, extra clothes, food and snacks in case you get stuck in the snow.
Derrey told me in our interview that whether you are heading over the mountains or just down the street, keep your car stocked with enough supplies to last a few hours because you never know how long you could be stuck in winter weather.
Strandberg also tells me there are no alternate routes through eastern Oregon when I-84 closes for winter road conditions and people should not take side roads because they are not treated as well as the main highway.
You can also plan ahead of time by checking our website for continuous weather forecasts, and check WSDOT and Tripcheck for up-to-the-minute traffic and mountain reports.