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Know Before You Go During Winter Travel Season

Nov. 7, 2002 (Release 02-142)


News Contacts: Listed at end of release

Know Before You Go During Winter Travel Season

Know before you go. It’s advice that could save your life during the winter driving season in Kansas.

Winter driving can be dangerous, especially for rusty drivers at the beginning of the season. After a long spring and summer, it’s easy to forget how to drive on winter's slick roads and in low visibility. Common sense says to monitor the weather, travel only when necessary, keep your speed down and drive defensively.

The Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Department of Transportation offer the following additional suggestions for your safe winter travel. First, prepare your vehicle. Extreme temperatures can be hard on vehicles. Check the fluids, ensuring that the radiator is winterized, that the gas tank is over half-full, and that there is plenty of windshield washing fluid.

Check belts, hoses and brake systems for excessive wear. Have the exhaust system checked; small leaks can allow carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Check tire treads for adequate traction, and replace windshield wiper blades if they are ineffective.

Keep a survival kit that includes at least the following:

- An ice scraper and shovel - Non-perishable food
- Jumper cables and flashlight - A first aid kit
- Matches and candles or flares - A towrope or chain
- Sand or kitty litter for traction - Extra clothing or blankets

Before you travel find out the latest weather-related road conditions by going to the KDOT web site at www.kanroad.org and clicking on “Road Conditions.” A statewide map will be displayed showing weather-related information on primary routes in the state. Below the state map you can click on links that will take you to regional map information. These maps show more routes, including all Kansas, U.S. and Interstate designated routes in the region.

You may also obtain the latest information by calling KDOT’s toll-free Road Condition Hot Line at 1-800-585-ROAD (7623).

Once you’re on the road, be sure to allow extra time for delays and slower traffic speeds. Buckle up and properly secure children in safety seats. Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you because inclement weather significantly increases your stopping distance.

Accelerate and brake gently when driving. A light foot on the gas is less likely to make wheels spin on ice and snow. Braking is best accomplished by pumping the pedal, unless your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS). If it has ABS, it is very important that you understand how to use it. Read the owner's manual and practice using it correctly. Make turns slowly and gradually, especially in heavily traveled areas.

Visibility is very important. You must be able to see out, and other drivers must be able to see your vehicle. Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors and lights.

If your vehicle loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go. Anticipate a second skid in the opposite direction as the car straightens out.

Motorists that become stranded in a winter storm should not panic. Stay in the vehicle, keep fresh air circulating through a downwind window, run the motor sparingly, turn on the dome light and stimulate circulation and stay awake by moving arms and legs. If you have a cellular phone, call a Kansas Highway Patrol dispatcher by dialing *HP (47) or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.

KDOT will strive to continue delivering the timely and comprehensive ice and snow control that Kansans are accustomed to receiving through specialized equipment, new technology, and an increased focus on technology.

The approximate 10,000 miles of highways maintained by KDOT are divided into three service levels: I, II, and III. The long-term practice of utilizing service levels provides a systematic procedure for allocating available resources during snow removal operations. Services levels are determined by many factors, which may include traffic counts, number of lanes, service continuity, and roadway classification (Interstate, Primary) to name a few.

While the department often performs snow removal operations on each level simultaneously, highways in service level I will receive the highest level of service. Service level I includes those routes with the highest traffic counts and other highly significant factors.

The following KDOT and KHP regional contacts are available to assist members of the media who would like to schedule an interview, take pictures or shoot video footage related to the winter driving season.

Kansas Department of Transportation
District Public Involvement Liaisons
Northeast Dist. - Topeka
John Swihart
Northcentral Dist. - Salina
David Greiser
Northwest Dist. - Norton
Tom Hein
Southeast Dist. - Chanute
Priscilla Petersen
Southcentral Dist. - Hutchinson
Martin Miller
Southwest Dist. - Garden City
Kirk Hutchinson

Kansas Highway Patrol
Public Resource Officers
Headquarters – Topeka
2LT John Eichkorn
Troop A - Olathe
Sgt. Steve Jensen
Troop B - Topeka
Sgt. Tim McCool
Troop C - Salina
Sgt. J.L. Riedel
Troop D - Hays
Sgt. Travis Phillips
Troop E - Garden City
Sgt. Ron Knoefel
Troop F - Wichita
Sgt. Gary Warner
Troop H - Chanute
Sgt. Chuck Yokley