SEATTLE - It's been one of the mildest winters in decades, but the time has come to revive those Northwest-style winter driving skills. Pam Moen with the American Automobile Association (AAA), suggests making sure vehicle batteries and tires are ready for the colder weather.
"Those are probably the two things that get people in the most trouble during the winter weather. Also, make sure that you have all of your lights checked out and that they're working properly, and that you've got a good set of windshield wipers."
Moen says before a trip, there's no reason not to double-check the weather forecast and road conditions - and get prepared for them.
If you'll be driving any distance, over mountains, or in rural areas, Moen says make sure you're carrying more than just tire chains. Put together a winter survival kit to keep in the vehicle.
"Every year, there are people who die because they become stranded in extreme winter conditions and don't have the proper supplies, or don't know what to do to keep themselves safe until help can get to them," she said. "Things like an ice scraper; some traction material, whether it's sand, salt, or cat litter; a snow shovel; a flashlight and some basic tools; and certainly some warm clothing and blankets in case you would get stranded."
Water, nonperishable food, waterproof matches and candles, and a cell phone and charger are other essentials for longer road trips this winter.
You can call 511 to get road conditions across the state, or get road and weather information online at wsdot.com.
"Know Before You Go" and access a wealth of information on ferries, mountain passes, road temperatures, and see aviation, ferry, road webcams, at wsdot.com/traffic.
The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has all kinds winter driving safety information at www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter. A PDF version (931 kb) of the The Winter Driving Guide can be downloaded and printed. It includes a list of everything to put in a car emergency kit.