DPS warns drivers to start preparing for winter driving

(Frank Martinez/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Blistering heat and Texas usually go hand-in-hand, but believe it or not, Central Texas experiences 20 to 30 below freezing days a year, that’s why it’s important to be prepared for driving in cold weather.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety held a news conference to remind drivers of the dangers of ice or snow covered roads. DPS says now is the time to put extra blankets, a phone charger, food and water in your car in case you find yourself stuck or stranded in winter weather. Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management of DPS says it’s especially important here in Austin since so many people are moving here every day, many from areas where they don’t experience icy conditions.

“We don’t get enough practice at driving in it. Our vehicles aren’t designed for it. We don’t carry the tires on our vehicles designed for it,” says Kidd.

Officials also recommend keeping an all hazards radio in your car so that you can keep track of any current weather conditions no matter where you travel in case of an emergency.

DPS offers the following tips for staying safe during possible winter weather:

  • Monitor local weather broadcasts and follow up-to-the-minute weather conditions, at http://www.weather.gov/.
  • Purchase an all-hazards weather radio for up-to-date warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information.
  • Sign up for your local emergency notification system.
  • On icy roads, drive slowly and increase distance required for stopping, and avoid using cruise control.
  • Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power is out, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before any trip.
  • Keep your gas tank full.
  • Avoid traveling when sleet, freezing rain or snow is predicted, and monitor road conditions by visiting www.drivetexas.org.

As always, KXAN’s First Warning Weather Team will keep you updated on all weather situations. If you’re on the go, you can always check the KXAN Weather app for your local forecast.

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