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Nov. 1 is right around the corner, but put chains in your car now

Post by Joe Turner on Oct. 17, 2008 at 12:32 pm with No Comments »
October 17, 2008 12:32 pm

The Washington Department of Transportation is advising folks to plan for snow now, even though it’s only mid-October. You can’t used studded tires until Nov. 1, but the DOT folks want you to be prepared now.

WSDOT NEWS: Trucks and cars should prepare now for winter driving; Big rigs need chains onboard by Nov. 1

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Washington State Patrol (WSP) advise drivers to plan now for winter driving.

"Our employees work hard to keep the roads safe and open for business, but we need drivers’ help," said WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond. "After the floods, wind and snowstorms from last year, we all learned it’s important to be ready for anything. Get your vehicle ready now and plan more time to get to your destination. Don’t be caught off guard. Having a four-wheel or all-wheel drive isn’t enough to prepare you for winter driving."

See an example on the WSDOT blog: http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/drive-safely-in-mountains-1.html.

Law enforcement personnel remind drivers that preparation can also help protect your pocketbook.

"When you aren’t prepared for winter driving conditions and cause a collision, your costs can add up very quickly," said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. "Make sure you have traction tires, carry chains, don’t use cruise control, and most importantly, on ice and snow, take it slow."

WSDOT Maintenance crews and its fleet of plows, graders and snow blowers will be working on the roadway wherever winter weather hits. Motorists must use caution as snow removal and avalanche control work can delay or even stop traffic.

"Last year was one for the books," said WSDOT Snoqualmie Pass Maintenance Technician Al Minerich. "It seemed like the winter that wouldn’t end. When that first snow hit last week I looked at the calendar. It had only been four months since we stopped plowing on June 8."

WSDOT offers information about its winter road-clearing activities, tips for preparing your car for winter, and winter driving advice at www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter.

This month marks the start of all kinds of winter weather. Any day could bring strong winds, poor visibility, ice, and snow on the roadway. Here’s what drivers can do to prepare:

&bullPlan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily-traveled routes such as I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 Stevens Pass, and US 12 White Pass.

&bullCarry chains – Washington law requires commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) to carry sufficient tire chains between Nov. 1 and April 1. This includes some larger passenger trucks, SUVs, recreational vehicles and trucks hauling trailers. The WSP will have a special chain emphasis patrol in early November, to ensure commercial drivers have the proper number of chains required. WSP troopers will strictly enforce the Nov. 1 deadline. Failing to carry chains will cost heavy-truck drivers $155.

&bullKnow traction and chain requirements – Mountain pass traction and chain requirements are available on highway advisory signs and highway advisory radio. WSDOT advises drivers to program 530AM and 1610AM on your radio. When those advisories call for chains, drivers who don’t chain up will face a $500 penalty.

WSDOT also reminds drivers studded tires are only legal for use between Nov. 1 and April 1. Motorists are encouraged to visit their tire dealers for chains and find out about tires that provide traction and are legal for use year-round.

"Every year we see a large number of spin-outs and collisions on the first snowfall of the season," said Trooper Curt Boyle of the Washington State Patrol. "These often lead to a citation for driving too fast for conditions, as well as property damage and injuries. Negligent driving is another citation that often comes with the first snow of the season.”

For more information on WSP chain requirements, WSDOT’s winter programs, a list of frequently asked questions, car emergency kits and ways to prepare your vehicle for winter, please visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter. At www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/weather, drivers can look at weather forecasts and road temperatures throughout the state.

Drivers can access Seattle area traffic flow map, ferry schedules, mountain pass reports, and current travel times from their PDAs or cell phones by logging on to www.wsdot.wa.gov/small/

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