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Safe winter driving starts with a trip check, preparation

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Preparation is the best protection for you and your vehicle during winter.While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent breakdowns on the road, you canavoid many problems before you even leave your driveway.

“The first thing you need to do is get a basic check, a 52-point inspection,”said Lisa McClease-Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Tool Box in Grants Pass andKelly’s Technical Automotive in Medford. “Trip checks are very important. We see a ton of tow-ins, especially during the holidays, with people from Portland or San Francisco who didn’t do a trip check first.

“Just a basic trip check would save them a lot of hassle.”

Kelly said drivers should know their vehicle’s basic functions and be attentive while driving. Often problems occur when a driver simply ignores a noise.

“If you are hearing a noise, don’t keep driving,” Kelly said. “We’ve seenmany people blow up their engines because they just keep pushing theirvehicle further down the highway.”

Kelly offers a free car care clinic for women. If you are interested in attending, contact Elizabeth Baines at 830-4005.

ODOT provides winter driving safety tips, including tips on chaining up anddriving with chains, online at

Siskiyou Pass
The Siskiyou Pass is also the only mountain pass in Oregon where all-weather or studded tires cannot be substituted for chains.

“We got to a higher standard on Siskiyou Pass because of the grades, the traffic and the drivers’ experience,” ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon said. “When we announce chains are required on the Siskiyous, everyone has to chain up except vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive.”

Winter Driving TipsTo ensure your vehicle is properly equipped for winter driving, the ODOTTraffic Safety Division offers these tips:

• Carry a windshield scraper, snow brush, warm weather clothes (especiallygloves and boots), and an emergency kit;

• Include battery booster cables, roadfl ares, a properly inflated spare tire, vehicle jack, lug wrench and a basic tool kit;

• Make sure your fuel tank is full;

• Pack a small shovel, cat litter or sand for traction and a plastic tarp to help keep you dry when installing tire chains or in case you get stuck;

• Don’t forget to carry water and anymedications you need to take;

• Take your cell phone with fully-charged extra batteries; and

• If you travel with a baby, pack extrafood, warm clothes and blankets, toys and games, and extra diapers. Properly use your child safety seat.

« Back to the November 2008 edition