Be ready before hitting the road this winter

By John Miller
jmiller@taosnews.com
Posted 10/31/19

Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle (or the handlebars of a motorcycle, as the case may be) always poses some degree of danger, but winter driving in Northern New Mexico can introduce a whole other set of variables that can make getting from point A to B especially tricky.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Be ready before hitting the road this winter

Posted

Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle (or the handlebars of a motorcycle, as the case may be) always poses some degree of danger, but winter driving in Northern New Mexico can introduce a whole other set of variables that can make getting from point A to B especially tricky.

As Taos has now received its first taste of snow and ice this season – with mild snowstorms that hit Oct. 24, 28 and 30 – it's smart to catch up on basic vehicle maintenance.

Topping off a vehicle's coolant and antifreeze reservoir, as well as ensuring it has plenty of oil, helps keep an engine in good working order. Check that a vehicle's lights are working properly. If a battery is old, replace it before the weather gets too cold as lower temperatures can kill a weak battery. Verifying that tires are in good condition, and that they have the proper tread to handle slick road conditions, can prevent a driver from getting into an accident.

Especially when traveling at higher elevations, carrying tire chains or studded tires can be critical if a driver encounters deep snow on the road. If possible, travel with a shovel and rubber mats to provide traction for tires that might get stuck in the snow. Keeping bags of sand or road salt in the back of trucks also adds weight for traction.

"Speed is always a factor when it comes to slick driving conditions," said Taos Police Chief David Trujillo. "Our hopes are that people stay alert, maintain a reasonable speed for the road conditions and be courteous to others on the roadway."

Trujillo added that it's important to remember that a vehicle with four-wheel drive stops just the same as a two-wheel drive vehicle. Leaving for a destination ahead of time can also reduce the temptation to rush, he said.

But since even the most vigilant motorists can encounter the unexpected, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that drivers should carry in their cars a basic first-aid kit, blankets, water, a flashlight and other items that might prove useful – and potentially lifesaving – in case of an emergency. If stranded, drivers should turn on their emergency flashers to alert other drivers. Hogrefe also said to do a thorough job when defrosting one's windshield in the morning in order to maximize visibility, especially when snowfall can make vehicles and other potential obstacles difficult to see.

Reporting reckless drivers can also help prevent accidents, he said, but added that such reports should be made to the Taos Central Dispatch nonemergency line at (575) 758-2216.

"Be the best witness you can without exposing yourself to danger," Hogrefe said. "Describe the vehicles involved the best you can, give dispatch the license plates and write them down, who the drivers are if you know them, the best location you can describe – if it’s a hit-and-run provide the direction of travel, describe the person driving as best you can."

If a driver happens upon a serious accident and can stop safely to assist, Hogrefe said first to alert first responders, then render first aid if possible and help keep injured persons warm.

Finally, if road conditions are dangerous and a driver doesn't have to travel, don't, Hogrefe said.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.