Most of the year we enjoy bee-yoo-ti-ful weather here in sunny Southern California, but as temps these past few days indicate, that doesn’t mean we don’t get some cold, snowy, crummy driving conditions, particularly on I-5 in north Los Angeles County, SR-39 and SR-2. The best course of action is to stay off the roads in bad weather, but if you must drive, here are some tips that can help you do it safely:
* Use the Caltrans QuickMap to check road conditions, road work, chain control, cameras, and CHP information before you leave. You can also call 511 or visit go511.com.
* Fill up your gas tank before you leave.
* Drive as conditions permit — slower acceleration, slower speeds, and slower braking in winter weather. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
* Use headlights (not just parking or fog lights) in foggy, rainy and snowy weather. You MUST have your lights on when using your wipers — it’s the law.
* If you get stuck, stay with your vehicle and wait for help.
* If visibility diminishes to the point that you no longer feel safe driving, don’t stop in traffic lanes. Try to use the closest ramp.
* Bring water, food, warm clothing, sturdy shoes/boots and medications.
Also: a charged cell phone, car cell phone charger, and battery-operated radio.
* Make sure your vehicle is running well. Check your coolant, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster/heater and exhaust systems.
* If traveling to mountain areas, carry chains between October and April, even if it’s not snowing. Weather can be unpredictable.
* Never play in the snow next to or on the roadway. Don’t allow sleds to slide onto the road. Don’t play in the snow on private property.
* Black ice can be nearly invisible, so reduce your speeds during and after it snows, especially in turns or shady areas.
* Make room for Caltrans equipment, CHP vehicles, and all emergency responders. Stay clear of plows.
* Slow down, bring patience, and be courteous. Use turnouts if you’re holding up traffic.
* Never drink and drive or text and drive. EVER.
For more information about driving through the Grapevine/Tejon Pass in snowy weather, check out the Operation Snowflake Guide.