As the cold winter months approach, exposure to unsafe roads and traveling conditions becomes more prevalent — meaning students and faculty members traveling from the Palouse must take extra precautions to stay safe.
With rain, snow and ice beginning to make headway on campus and in surrounding areas, traveling can become a hazardous task — particularly on the roadways.
“In terms of getting ready for driving, make sure your car is completely serviced and ready to go,” said Parking and Transportation Services Information Specialist Robert Mitchell. “Any problem you experience ordinarily with your car — whether it’s getting stranded or a mechanical difficulty or a lack of performance is exacerbated a million times when you’re in the snow … It’s a whole different ball game.”
Mitchell said he suggests that travelers ensure they have a half-tank of gas as often as possible while driving in poor conditions. With slower driving conditions comes a higher chance of becoming trapped on the road to some degree — gas is always a major concern, he said.
“It just doesn’t last,” Mitchell said.
While driving in the winter, Mitchell said it is key to take things slow in order to play it safe, since winter driving can be far more dangerous than milder seasons. In terms of keeping a car mechanically sound and fit for driving, always make sure the vehicle has chains equipped when forced to drive through snow, even with all-wheel drive. If possible, defrost the vehicle before driving to maximize your field of view.
“Basically, just invest a great deal more time getting where you’re going,” Mitchell said.
When traveling locally, while not the warmest option, Mitchell recommends that travelers bicycle or walk if at all possible, as the chance of getting into a major accident is decreased significantly this way. The local bus service, which has terminals on campus, is another resource one can utilize. During holiday breaks, Mitchell suggests for those who park on campus to be aware of how changes to transportation and parking are handled on campus during the winter. For information on available overnight parking lots during break visit uidaho.edu/parking for more information.
AAA, a national automobile insurance agency, lists ways for a driver to remain safe during winter driving conditions on their website, emphasizing the importance of checking projected road conditions prior to long-distance road trips. In order to do this, travelers driving through Idaho can visit Idaho 511, a website which provides live winter road safety information — including a more detailed version and a mobile version for use on a smart phone.
Additionally, travelers can call 511 or 1-888-432-7623 for similar road safety information.
Christopher Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org