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Caltrans Alerts Motorists to Prepare for Winter Driving Conditions

Caltrans is alerting motorists that the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in the Northern California area for Wednesday through Friday. The storm is forecast to include heavy valley rains, high winds and up to 12 inches of snowfall at the higher elevations, including Donner and Echo Summit passes.

As winter driving conditions develop, chain controls on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and on U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit should be anticipated. High winds may create white-out, low visibility conditions over the summits. Heavy rains in valley and foothill areas will result in wet, slippery surfaces and potential roadway flooding.

Caltrans’ snow removal crews will be working throughout the storm on summit passes and impacted Caltrans roadways. Caltrans permitted and trained chain installers on I-80 can be identified by a reflective sign with their bib number. Valley area crews will be monitoring roadway drainage systems and motorists are advised that detours resulting from flooded roadways should be anticipated.

Severe weather may slow motorists, resulting in roadway congestion. Wet and slippery roadways reduce tire traction, especially at high vehicle speeds. Hydroplaning can result in loss of driver control. Motorists are encouraged to slow down and observe the following winter driving tips, which can also be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html:

• Check your tire pressure and tread depth to minimize sliding and/or hydroplaning.
• Replace the wiper blades and fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir; be sure to use a winter formula to help de-ice windshields.
• If traveling to higher elevations, carry tire chains correctly sized for your tires, in good working order and practice installing the chains before needing to use them.
• Find chain control information at http://dot.ca.gov/cttravel/docs/ChainRequire.pdf .
• Have a full tank of fuel before traveling.

• Have blankets, extra clothing, food and water, towels, a shovel, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small bag of sand or kitty litter and road flares.
• Have a fully charged cell phone before leaving and carry a car charger.
• If traveling with children, bring activity packs to help prevent driver distractions.

• Reduce speeds during winter weather and allow for additional stopping time.
• Turn on headlights to see and be seen and turn off cruise control.
• Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually.
• Keep additional distance from other vehicles and do not tailgate.
• Watch carefully for snow removal equipment and don’t crowd the plow or sander.

• Check out Caltrans’ “QuickMap” for current road conditions and chain requirements at quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or download the QuickMap app on iTunes or Google Play.
• Motorists also can use the California Highway Information Network automated phone service by calling 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).
• Motorists can see real-time conditions before they hit the road by using our map of traffic cameras in the Sacramento Valley, up Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 50 and around the Tahoe Basin.
• For forecast information, visit the National Weather Service website.

• Understand that winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly and allow for extra travel time or delay your travel until conditions improve.
• Make sure you share the route you intend to take with friends or family.
• Exercise patience and respect for other motorists.

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