Winter driving tips from ODOT

Winter driving tips from ODOT

This is a press release courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation

Before you travel, check 511 and for the latest road conditions and chain requirements. Please remember: you must carry chains with you into snow zones (mountain passes) in winter in Oregon.
Winter Driving Tips

  • If you lose traction and your vehicle feels like it's floating, gradually slow down. Don't slam on the brakes.
  • Use caution when driving on bridges or concrete highways. These are the surfaces that get slick first when the temperature drops.
  • Slow down in advance of shaded areas— especially on curves.
  • Don't pass snowplows or sanders, and don't follow them too closely.
  • If you start to skid, ease your foot off the accelerator. With manual transmissions, push in the clutch. Keep your foot off the brake and steer in the direction the rear of the vehicle is skidding.
  • If you hit an unexpected patch of ice, ease up on your accelerator and let your vehicle coast through the slippery area.  

Double-Check Your Car's Condition

  • Inspect windshield wipers and tires. Is your windshield washer tank filled with winterized fluid.
  • Carry tire chains! They can be required anytime conditions warrant—and they often are required on Mount Hood!
  • Make sure anti-freeze levels are adequate and that radiator hoses are in good shape.
  • Be sure the car's heater and defroster are working properly. Check the age of the vehicle's battery—cold weather can cut the power of older batteries.
  • Test all lights.
  • Look to see if your vehicle is stocked with an ice scraper, battery booster cables, a small shovel, a flashlight and first aid kit.

Stock Your Vehicle 

  • A full fuel tank and a good highway map.
  • An ice scraper, battery booster cables, road flares, a properly inflated spare tire, a vehicle jack, lug wrench and a basic tool kit.
  • A small shovel and a bag of kitty litter or sand for traction in case you get stuck, and a plastic tarp to help keep you dry when installing tire chains.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs, an extra pair of winter gloves and a warm hat, a change of clothes and a warm blanket, snack foods, matches in a waterproof container, extra quarters for phone calls, a pocket knife and a first aid kit.
  • A large thermos bottle filled with water or a hot drink on each trip.
  • A cell phone with fully charged extra batteries.

On The Road

  • Wear safety belts! And make sure younger kids are using safety seats. It's Oregon law.
  • Drive with low beam headlights turned on in snow or fog. Keep your headlights, stoplights and turn signals clean. Dirty headlights can cut visibility by 50 percent or more.
  • Keep at least three times the normal following distance from vehicles in front of you on snow or ice. If someone is following you too closely, maintain extra distance behind the vehicle ahead so that you can slow down or brake gradually.
  • Plan ahead when approaching intersections to brake smoothly.