Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Whitman County Gazette 

Stay safe by preparing for winter driving


November 12, 2020

COLFAX — Winter is coming and now is the time for drivers to prepare themselves and their vehicles for winter driving.

“Winters on the Palouse can be very nasty,” Washington State Patrol Sgt. Courtney Shawley said.

La Nina conditions are expected, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), meaning an expected wetter and colder season than normal. There are increased odds of cooler than normal temperatures, especially toward the latter half of the winter, NWS advised.

Drivers, especially ones not on a plow route, should carry a few extra water bottles and nutritional snack bars, Shawley advised.

Ready.gov recommends carrying an emergency supply kit with jumper cables, sand, flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, and to keep the fuel tank full.

The biggest winter driving myth, Shawley said, is that all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive will allow travel at regular speed limits on compact snow or ice.

“It does not,” he said.

When a vehicle goes fast, it lifts, reducing the contact between tires and road. The type of tires do not help if there is not enough contact to direct the vehicle. On compact snow or ice, drivers may need to reduce speed by 20 mph or more. On code runs, state troopers may only go 35 mph, Shawley said.

WSP gives 12 tips for winter driving:

• Winterize your car, self and your driving before winter comes.

• Use good tires and tire chains.

• Use the best snow tires or tire chains.

• Drive slower than normal.

• Keep your windshield and windows clear. You have to see danger in order to avoid it.

• Make sure you clean your head lights and tail lights to improve your visibility to other drivers.

• Follow at a safe distance. Remember, it takes 3-12 times as far to stop .

• Use your brakes correctly.

• Don’t spin your wheels.

• Front wheels—straight. Turn wheels straight ahead to ease starting.

• Gearing down: Use discretion when gearing down.

• Rear wheels steer, too. When drivers lock the rear wheels on a turn, they only skid sideways.

• At intersections: If you can’t steer, you may slide into the curb. Slow down before reaching the intersection, so you don’t have to brake when turning or where ice and snow have been polished to dangerous slipperiness.

• Obey all warning signs. “Traction tires required” mean it is illegal for any vehicle to enter the controlled area without having mud and snow tires, studded tires, or tire chains installed.

• “Chains required” means it is illegal for any vehicle to enter the controlled area without having tire chains installed. All-wheel-drive vehicles are exempt from the chain requirement when all four wheels are in gear and tire chains for at least one set of drive wheels are carried within the vehicle.

Shawley recommended motorist check the state Department of Transportation website or download the app before traveling. WSDOT has cameras, temperatures and road conditions for the whole state. The site and app are booth kept up-to-date.

“It’s a phenomenal resource,” he said.

Author Bio

Jana Mathia, Reporter

Jana Mathia is a reporter at the Whitman County Gazette.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 509-397-4333
Contact Jana Mathia


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