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Winter Travel Tips

Stay safe when travelling in wintery conditions.

Travel in winter rain, snow or ice can be tricky. Whether you're driving, biking, rolling or walking, plan ahead and use extra caution.

Before you travel

  • Check road conditions.
  • Check weather forecasts and adjust travel plans accordingly.
  • If traveling through snow zones, make sure you have appropriate traction devices on or in your vehicle.
  • Let someone know your travel plans and check in when you've arrived.
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination.

If driving, prepare your vehicle

  • Make sure your fuel tank at least half full.
  • Clear snow, ice or frost from windows, wipers, lights, hood, and mirrors.
  • Clean and check headlights, brake lights and turn signals.
  • Be sure tires are properly inflated and in good condition.
  • Make sure you have tire chains and know how to use them.
  • Check your emergency kit and make sure you have a blanket and flashlight.

If biking, prepare your bike

  • Make sure you have good, properly inflated snow tires.
  • Check your brakes, reflectors and lights.

Winter Walking and Rolling Tips

  • Allow yourself extra time.
  • Wear shoes or boots with non-slip soles.
  • Wear reflective or bright-colored clothing so you can be seen.
  • Hats or scarves that covering your ears can distort or muffle sounds of approaching vehicles. Make sure that you can hear what's going on around you.
  • Wear gloves to avoid putting your hands in your pockets.
  • Avoid carrying heavy packages, which may affect your balance and block your view.
  • Follow all traffic signs and signals.
  • If you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic close to the curb.
  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure oncoming vehicles have come to a complete stop. Always make sure you have a clear view of all vehicles.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. A covered patch of ice or a pothole filled with snow may cause an unexpected slip or fall.
  • Bend your knees a little and take slower steps to reduce chances of falling.

Winter Driving Tips

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are set for clear, dry conditions.
  • Increase following distance. Keep at least three times the normal following distance from vehicles in front of you on snow or ice to make sure you have enough stopping distance. Be ready for emergency stops by other vehicles.
  • Use windshield wipers and the defroster, as needed.
  • Drive with your low-beam headlights on so you can be seen.
  • Turn off your cruise control.
  • Signal early and brake gently. Plan ahead when approaching intersections to brake smoothly.
  • Do not change lanes or pass other vehicles unless absolutely necessary.
  • Watch out for snowplows, sanders and anti-icing equipment and slow down. Plow drivers will pull over to let you by as soon as it is safe.

In case of trouble

  • Treat traffic signals that are not working as an all-way stop.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Never assume a downed line is "dead."
  • Do not drive through standing water or water moving across the roadway.
  • In low visibility, use the right edge of the road or roadside reflectors as a guide.
  • During heavy rain, use the center lanes (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where water collects at curbside.
  • If you start to skid, ease your foot off the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Hold the steering wheel firmly, and avoid making sudden turns. Use a light touch to correct a skid.
  • If you are being followed too closely, increase your following distance behind the vehicle ahead so that you can slow down or brake gradually.
  • When you see animals ahead, slow down and be ready to stop until you are safely past them.
  • Do not blaze your own trail on unplowed roads or through snowdrifts to avoid getting stuck.
  • Respect road closures. It is illegal to move or drive around a road closure barricade.

Winter Biking Tips

  • Wear A Helmet. Always.
  • Make yourself visible to motorists. Add flashing lights, headlights and reflectors to make sure you're visible in blowing snow or heavy rains.
  • Avoid biking after dark. Visibility after dark in heavy snow or rain decreases significantly, even with reflective clothing, reflectors and lights. If you must travel after dark, avoid heavily traveled roads whenever possible.
  • Be alert. Do not use earbuds or other devices. Stay focused. Know what's going on around you. Be aware of safety rules.
  • Be careful crossing streets. Allow extra time to cross streets. Wet, slippery roads may make it hard for you and drivers to stop.

Other resources:

Report a hazard

  • To request emergency response for a life-threatening situation – call 9-1-1
  • To report a non-emergency situation: 503-629-0111

To report a road issue during business hours:

  • For a state highway – call ODOT at 503-283-5859
  • For a county road – call Washington County at 503-846-ROAD (846-7623)
  • For a city street – call that city

Visit to learn about Washington County's emergency road response.

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