Troopers help drivers prepare for winter weather

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SALT LAKE CITY -- With another storm hitting the Wasatch Front Thursday, the Utah Highway Patrol wants to make sure drivers are prepared for weather they will inevitably face this winter.

Slick roads seem to sneak up on drivers every year, and troopers say all it takes is a little bit of water or ice on the roads for things to turn ugly.

"We see a number of crashes that substantially go up during the winter driving conditions," says UHP Sgt. Glen Porter. "We see, a lot of times, especially when there is a snow storm, when people just aren't prepared."

**Winter Equipment Checklist**
• Tires- good tread, matching size, proper pressure and alignment • Windshield wipers/washer system • Head light operation/adjustment. Operation rear lights • Front defroster- operational, unobstructed • Rear view mirrors aimed, clear of debris. Good snow scrapper • Windshield and windows cleared prior to driving • Brake system operation • Full fuel tank prior to leaving (weight over rear wheels)
Porter says it's something he knows about firsthand.

"Several years ago, when I was working in Salt Lake, I was on crashes during winter-driving conditions, and I was hit on two separate occasions -- my vehicle was," he says.

The common mistakes, UHP says, are too much speed, not enough stopping distance, and not making sure you're vehicle is ready for the winter weather. So, troopers say they're trying to warn drivers before they're in an emergency.

"It doesn't seem like a big deal ‘till you're broke down. Then when you're calling AAA, or trying to get a trooper or another officer to come and help you, you'd wish you had checked it," says Trooper Dana Kramer.

Before you get behind the wheel and roll away, there are some things Kramer says you should check.

**Winter Driver Checklist**
• Leave early • Drive only when necessary • Do not follow too close • Move over/slow down for emergency vehicles • Reduce speed • Be aware of increased stopping distances on snow, ice and water • Concentrate on driving, not outside distractions • Bring cell phone, extra clothes, blankets, food, water for emergency
"At least check it once a week -- all of your equipment -- to make sure it's in good condition," Kramer says. When it comes to your tires, UHP advises all four should have similar tread; it's not a good idea to have two in better or worse shape than the others.

Once you've made sure your vehicle is in order, troopers say drivers should prepare themselves for what could be a messy commute.

"Increase your stopping distance, allowing extra stopping distance for these snowy conditions," Porter says.

They say to take it slow in the snow, because it takes twice the distance to stop when the roads are slick, and always wear your seat belt.


Story compiled with contributions from Jennifer Stagg and Becky Bruce.

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