AMES — Snow and a wintery mix is expected for much of Iowa beginning Saturday afternoon into Sunday. The Iowa DOT recommends the following tips for safe winter travel during the impending storm.
Is the trip necessary? Trips during severe winter weather can take three or four times longer than normal. Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions. For traveler information, now available via the web, Twitter, Facebook or on your mobile device, visit www.511ia.org. Or simply call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide).
Before you go, let someone know when you are leaving, when you expect to arrive and your intended route. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
Use your vehicle's safety equipment. Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seatbelts or are in a child safety seat. Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen.
Use your winter driving skills. Do not use cruise control, it can make it difficult to maintain control if you hit a slick spot. Allow extra stopping distance by keeping distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. Slow down, accelerate more slowly and apply the brakes in an even, controlled manner.
Carry an emergency survival kit and other supplies. Carry a mobile phone for making an emergency call; do not use it while driving.
Use caution when approaching, following or passing a snowplow. Snowplows generally operate at much slower speeds than other traffic. Snowplows can be forced sideways when clearing hard-packed drifts and generate a "snow cloud" that may reduce visibility for nearby vehicles. Remain a safe distance behind the snowplow, pass only when clear and never continue to drive alongside a plow. Allow plenty of space when passing a snowplow because the wing of the plow blade extends out to the side of the truck and the front blade extends well ahead of the truck.