Kansas Highway Patrol Offers Winter Driving Tips

Kansas is experiencing inclement winter weather this week. Driving in winter can be dangerous, especially for those who are unfamiliar with driving in weather such as what we are currently experiencing.

The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) is offering tips to help keep you safe if you have to travel in this weather. However, they note that if you can stay home and off the roads, you should.

First, prepare your vehicle. Extreme temperatures can be hard on vehicles, so this is important to do. Check the fluids, ensure the radiator is winterized, and that there is plenty of windshield washing fluid. The gas tank should be over half-full. Belts, hoses, and brake systems should be checked for wear. The exhaust system should also be checked to ensure there are no small leaks that will allow carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Look over tire treads and make sure they have adequate tension and replace windshield wiper blades if they are ineffective.

One of the most important tips is to have a survival kit with you.

The survival kit should include the following items:

  • A first aid kit
  • Extra blankets or clothing
  • Flashlights
  • Ice scraper and shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Matches and candles or flares
  • Non-perishable food
  • Sand or kitty litter for traction
  • Tow rope or chain

On the road remember the following:

  • Allow extra time for delays and slower traffic speeds.
  • Buckle up and properly secure children in safety seats.
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.  Ice and snow significantly increase your stopping distance.
  • Accelerate and brake gently.  A light foot on the gas is less likely to make wheels spin on ice and snow.  Braking is best accomplished by pumping the pedal.  If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, it is very important that you understand how to use it.  Read the owner’s manual or check with a dealership for more information, and practice using it correctly.
  • Make turns slowly and gradually, especially in heavily traveled areas, such as intersections that may be icy from snow that melted and refroze.
  • Visibility is very important.  You must be able to see out, and other drivers must be able to see your vehicle.  Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights.  Use headlights as necessary.
  • If your car loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go.  Anticipate a second skid in the opposite direction as the car straightens out.
  • If you plan to drive, do not drink.  Designate a driver or call a cab.  Report impaired drivers to a law enforcement agency.
  • Watch for deer, especially near dusk and dawn.

KHP notes: “If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not panic.  Stay in the vehicle, keep fresh air circulating through a downwind window, run the motor sparingly, turn on the dome light, and stimulate circulation and stay awake by moving arms and legs.  If you leave the car, work slowly in the snow to avoid over-exertion and the risk of a heart attack.  If you have a cellular phone, call a Kansas Highway Patrol dispatcher by dialing *HP (47), or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.”

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