Drivers, road crews prepare for icy weather in Oklahoma

With the threat of winter weather, it's important to plan ahead if you plan on hitting the road. (FILE)

Bitter temperatures and the potential for freezing rain could make roads in Oklahoma very dangerous Tuesday.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews are monitoring the conditions and are ready to salt or sand the roads if necessary. Oklahoma City has already pre-treated city bridges and overpasses with a salt solution.

Drivers need to do their part to prepare for icy conditions as well.

“We have short term memory on what to do when the ice arrives,” said Leslie Gamble with AAA Oklahoma. “We’re not usually the best drivers.”

AAA offered tips to drivers to stay safe on the roads in the winter weather.

Before icing conditions arrive:

  • Carry a winter weather kit in your car: Contents should include a fully charged cellphone (and car charger), ice scraper, blanket, warm winter clothing, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a bag of kitty litter, reflective triangles/flares, shovel and cloth/paper towels.
  • Windshield wipers: Pull wipers away from your windshield to prevent them from freezing to the windshield.
  • Use the right windshield washer solvent: Make sure windshield washer solvent is the correct type for winter. Summer rated solvents will freeze and can cause cracking and serious damage to the washer reservoir.
  • Dry and lubricate surfaces: Wipe down and dry weather strips and surfaces around doors and windows. Apply a lubricant (WD40, cooking spray and even Vaseline work well) to the weather stripping to prevent freezing.

Safe driving tips on icy roads:

  • Slow down: Accelerate, turn and brake gradually. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Do not tailgate: Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of eight to ten seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
  • Watch the traffic ahead: Slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways skids or emergency flashers ahead.
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads: Patches of ice can cause unexpected wheel spin and use of cruise control can slow driver response.
  • Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes: This increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle control.
  • Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses: Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.

The best thing you can do is avoid driving altogether.

“When you start hearing the precipitation coming down is icy, there’s no good reason to be out on the roads,” Gamble said. “No errands that just have to be done today. Nothing that has to be done that can’t wait that’s as important as your life. There are 2,000 people each year, that during wintery conditions, like snow and ice, lose their life. So we encourage people to take it very seriously.”

When the weather gets bad and drivers aren’t prepared, it’s not uncommon for AAA Oklahoma to get 900 calls for rescues a day in the state.

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