Treacherous winter conditions can make travel along Texas roads a dangerous proposition. The Texas Department of Public Safety urges motorists to pay attention to changing weather conditions and prepare for the winter driving season.
“We urge motorists to use extreme caution when driving under winter weather conditions. Slow down,” said Col. Stan Clark, interim director of DPS. “Wear your seatbelts and drive carefully. When it’s snowy or icy, it’s always best to avoid travel if at all possible.”
Stranded motorists can call the DPS helpline at 1-800-525-5555 for assistance from a DPS trooper or appropriate emergency service.
Customers of participating wireless companies – ALLTEL, Nextel and Verizon Wireless – can dial •DPS (•377) free of airtime charges anywhere in Texas.
For current road conditions, it's best to watch your local news reports or check the Texas Department of Public Transportation’s Web site at www.dot.state.tx.us/travel/road_conditions.htm.
Winter driving tips include:
• Wear your seat belt, and make sure all passengers – including children – are buckled up.
• Remember that ice forms first on bridges, overpasses and shady areas. If you hit a patch of ice, stay off your brakes and decelerate slowly, holding the car steady as you go over the ice.
• Speed is the main problem with driving on ice. Adjust your speed to fit the weather conditions. Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.
• If your car goes into a skid, take your foot off the gas pedal but don’t hit the brake. Steer gently in the direction you want the front of the car to go. As the car straightens out, you will be able to regain traction and control.
• Check your car battery before cold weather sets in. Battery power dips in cold weather.
• Keep blankets, a first-aid kit, flares, jumper cables, tire chains, a flashlight, ice scraper and gloves in your car. Take a food supply of candy bars or dried fruit in case you become stranded.
• Keep the gasoline level as high as possible to prevent water condensation in the tank.
• Check the automobile’s motor oil, transmission fluid, ignition system, lights, heater, cooling system and wipers.