Prepare now for winter weather, snowy driving

With winter on the way, now is the perfect time to start preparing before the snow starts to fly.

The Washington State Department of Transportation urges all drivers to prepare themselves and their vehicles for winter weather. Drivers can check out WSDOT’s winter driving web page for tips and information. WSDOT also asks drivers to always “know before you go” and get the most up-to-date roadway information before heading out.

To check conditions and prepare for snow or ice:

• Download the WSDOT mobile app for smartphones.
• Follow WSDOT’s regional and pass accounts on Twitter or the agency’s Facebook site.
• Sign up for email and/or text updates about road conditions—including a new text alert option for Snoqualmie Pass delays.
• Download, print and carry the WSDOT Winter Driving Guide.
• Get your vehicle ready and plan extra time to cross all mountain passes, including heavily traveled routes such as Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and White Pass.
• Carry chains and know current traction and chain requirements for mountain passes, which are also available on highway-advisory signs and highway-advisory radio and by calling 511.
• Preset your radio to 530 AM and 1610 AM for WSDOT’s traffic-information stations.
“Our crews work hard to keep roads clear of snow and ice for drivers, but we also need the public’s help,” said James Morin, WSDOT’s snow and ice program manager. “One unprepared driver is sometimes all it takes to snarl traffic or force a pass closure. Please help us keep everyone moving on our roadways.”

Alternatives to chains

Some vehicle manufacturers recommend against the use of tire chains for certain vehicle models. The Washington State Patrol provides a list of approved, alternative-traction devices that are acceptable when chains or traction tires are required.

Studded tires

Studded tires are legal for use in Washington state only from Nov. 1 through March 31. Motorists are encouraged to visit a tire dealer to learn more about traction tires that are legal for year-round use. Motorists purchasing studded tires this year will notice a new $5 per tire fee enacted by the Legislature on all new studded tire purchases. Money collected goes to the state motor vehicle fund for roadway work. More information about studded-tire restrictions and requirements can be found in the FAQ on the WSP website.