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Tips for getting around Washington in the snow

When we get accumulation -- and as crews take to the roads to try to keep them clear -- here are some reminders for traveling safely:

Don't crowd the plow. 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 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.

On Metro. While waiting on outdoor Metrorail platforms, remember that this is the first winter in which 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.

Bus stops may be made slippery by snow and boarding the bus could be tricky. Also, if roads are icy, buses may take detours or be delayed.

By Michael Bolden  |  January 29, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weather  
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