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PennDOT issues winter driving tips

This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation launched the first-ever Winter Driving Awareness Week. The initiative is aimed at reducing car accidents that occur as a result of winter weather. Additionally, PennDOT is urging drivers to prepare a winter emergency kit in case they are involved in an accident or become stranded in their vehicles.

Because Pennsylvanians are currently enjoying a break from harsh winter weather, PennDOT says now is the time to prepare. This is especially true since there is talk that the polar vortex will once again send temps plummeting throughout the nation.

In order to avoid winter driving snafus, PennDOT recommends having your vehicles serviced by a properly-trained mechanic who can check to make sure the vehicle is in good condition and functioning properly. Additionally, PennDOT says motorists should do their part by routinely checking fluid levels, lights, wiper blades and tires.

PennDOT also advises drivers to put together a winter emergency kit to keep in the vehicle in case an accident or car trouble should strike during frigid weather. PennDOT says the emergency kit should contain the following items: non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, blankets, cell phone charger and small shovel.

PennDOT also has some tips for avoiding accidents with snow plows. First, PennDOT says to always keep an eye out for plow trucks and remain at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck. Also, remember that the plow's blade is wider than the truck. That means move as far away from the center line as possible when approaching a plow head-on.

When driving behind a "train" of several plow trucks, it's a bad idea to try to pass the trucks, PennDOT says. Also, avoid traveling next to plow trucks as there are blind spots which may cause plow drivers to not see you. Finally, remember that under Pennsylvania law, if your windshield wipers are on due to rain or snow, your headlights must also be on.

Source: Wayne Independent, "Winter Driving Awareness Week encourages safe driving," Jan. 13, 2014

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