Tips for winter travel
On Sunday's Commuter page in The Post, I reviewed the plans our local transportation agencies have developed for attacking the ice and snow before it attacks us. One new element in Maryland's arsenal is beet juice. in a pilot project, the State Highway Administration will be combining sugar beet molasses with salt brine to make the anti-icing treatment stick to the roads better. You can see more details here.
But let's get beyond what the agencies are doing and talk today about what you can do to help yourself in traffic and transit.
Don't crowd the plow. A veteran plow driver in Maryland noted that the beet juice spray -- which smells like cigarette butts and strong coffee -- is just one more incentive for motorists to stay well back of snow-fighting equipment. What's the point of trying to get ahead of trucks that are making the road behind them safer to use? Also, a plow operator has blind spots, especially behind and to the left. They may need to stop or move quickly left to avoid a stranded vehicle. Plows moving in high winds can create a snow cloud, severely limiting visibility.
Before driving. Get the snow or ice off the vehicle, including the roof. Be sure of the battery charge, wiper blades, tires, tire jack, antifreeze and lights. Keep the gas tank at least half-full.
Carry an emergency kit that includes a small shovel; a bag of rock salt, sand or cat litter; a scraper and brush; a flashlight with extra batteries; jumper cables; blankets; and a first-aid kit.
When driving. Don't use cruise control, allow extra room for stopping distance, turn your lights on, know the condition of your brakes and be aware that road conditions can change quickly. Stick with the main roads as long as you can rather than detouring onto secondary routes. It's the main roads that will get the most attention from plows and emergency vehicles.
In Metro. While waiting on outdoor Metrorail platforms, remember this is our first winter in which the trains are required to pull to the front of the platform, exposing more of the train -- and more of you -- to the elements. Platform paving tiles can be slippery.
November 30, 2009; 9:10 AM ET
Categories: Driving , Metro , Safety , Weather , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, winter weather
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