ODOT release – Oregon — Winter is fast approaching and road conditions may be a little worse this year than in years past. Improving our winter driving skills has never been more important. That’s why we partnered with the Pro Drive Racing School to demonstrate to our media partners, and their viewers, readers, and listeners, how we can all drive smarter and safer when snow and ice hit. Today at the Portland International Raceway, ODOT and the Pro Drive Racing School used a skid car, a vehicle that can emulate dangerous driving conditions, to demonstrate essential skills for navigating snowy and icy conditions. Todd Harris, president of the Pro Drive Racing School, led the skid car participants. Todd says “The most common mistake drivers make is overestimating their vehicles capabilities and their own driving skills. Just notice how many nice four-wheel drive SUVs are crashed during the next snowstorm.” Todd showed how to avoid crashes and demonstrated best driving practices in emergencies and bad weather. He reviewed braking techniques, how to control skids, how best to drive in rain, snow, and ice and how to understand the limitations of your vehicle. This year, with costs increasing, and fuels tax revenues trending down, we are forced to scale back maintenance and services around the state. We won’t be able to clear roads during winter storms as quickly as in the past. There may be more snow and ice buildup, more chain requirements and longer delays and more frequent road closures. This change in average road conditions means we could all use a little sharpening of our winter driving skills. If you have to head out in the snow or ice, here are some things to keep in mind: Make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition, with clean headlights, good brakes, working windshield wipers and good tires. Slow down when approaching off-ramps, bridges or shady spots. Snow and ice may linger there longer. Check your route before leaving –not just your destination but conditions along the way. Never pass a snowplow or any winter maintenance truck on the right. It’s illegal and you may run into the wing plow that sticks way out on the right. Allow extra stopping distance. There’s less traction on slick, snowy roads. In bad visibility—heavy fog or snow flurries – being able to see is as important as being seen. Turn on your headlights to increase your visibility to others. Carry chains and know how to use them. If you’re tired, don’t fight it. Get a room if you can, wait out the storm and finish your trip when you’re refreshed. You may save a life. Slow down and allow extra time to get where you’re going. It doesn’t work for everyone but stay off the roads if possible. That leaves more room for those who must travel to travel safely and for our trucks to clear the road. Take a snow day.
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