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Winter driving: are you prepared

Since 2001, 300 Airmen have lost their lives in preventable traffic accidents.  Experts are predicting a cold and wet winter season, making it vital for individuals to be prepared to drive in challenging conditions. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)

Since 2001, 300 Airmen have lost their lives in preventable traffic accidents. Experts are predicting a cold and wet winter season, making it vital for individuals to be prepared to drive in challenging conditions. (U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

(This article is part of HillAFB’s Winter Safety series. Prepare for the winter season with these helpful tips.)

Since 2001, 300 Airmen have lost their lives in preventable traffic accidents.  Experts are predicting a cold and wet winter season, making it vital for individuals to be prepared to drive in challenging conditions. 

If you must drive in winter conditions, planning your route and knowing your stopping points is one step you can take to avoid any unwanted circumstances.  The use of TRiPS can assist in analyzing risks and making appropriate decisions as you travel (https://trips.safety.army.mil). 

If you plan on traveling this season, especially across I-80, it is crucial to check road conditions in advance.  The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s website allows for travelers to view the interstate cameras.  By doing this, you can avoid potential highway closures and prep accordingly.  Due to the high winds in Wyoming, snowfall can shut parts of the interstate down.  There have been closures up to six hours in past history so it is wise to always drive with a full tank of gas as often as possible. 

Equally important is ensuring you have a packed emergency travel kit in your vehicle.  A basic winter survival kit should include a flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks and water, gloves, boots, ice scraper and a first aid kit.  You could also include jumper cables and road flares in case of emergencies.  Your vehicle tires should also be checked for proper tread depth.  You may also want to consider investing in snow tires for your vehicle. 

Finally, allow for extra time to drive from one place to another.  If you feel rushed, you may feel the need to drive faster than the conditions allow for.  Be prepared to drive slower than what you may normally.  Snow-packed and icy road conditions will require extra stopping distance, so it is important to keep a distance of at least three cars, or up to six seconds, between you and the vehicle in front of you.