Snow, rain and ice are all a part of winter weather here in Tehachapi. Hazards while driving on roadways are present every day, with more resources than ever before available to prevent accidents from occurring.
Most closures on highways or freeways happen due to solo vehicles spinning out and blocking lanes. This can be prevented by slowing down, turning on headlights and driving in the slow lane during inclement conditions, said Sgt. Alexander Scott from the Mojave office of the California Highway Patrol.
In fact, more than one million weather-related crashes and an average of 5,000 deaths occur every year due to the wet pavement or rain, according to the U.S. Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
Scott added that some drivers are also under the influence of drugs or alcohol and drift into an oncoming lane. Other drivers can protect themselves by moving into another lane.
“I recommend to avoid driving in the fast lane when it's late at night and moving into the slow lane. The fast lane is usually the lane wrong-way drivers are often driving in and will often be traveling towards their right when they see headlights,” Scott said.
Motorists should not drive through moving water, as vehicles can be swept away. If windshield wipers are turned on, headlights must be on; it's the law. If a vehicle is on the side of the road, other drivers should move to another lane to prevent accidents from happening, said Scott.
Tehachapi received more than nine inches measured at the local Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District. This is for the calendar year of 2018, said Tom Neisler, district manager.
Motorists should keep in mind that extreme heat and cold conditions merit planning ahead. Keep necessary supplies in case of an emergency, especially when help might not immediately be available.
“Try and keep your gas tank as full as possible for the trip, and if you are stranded, you may have to run the air conditioning or heating. Always carry water, food, gloves, flashlights, blankets, hats, a shovel and kitty litter for traction in case your vehicle becomes stuck,” said Christine Knadler, public information officer for Caltrans in District 9.
Snow and icy conditions merit precautions of attaching chains to vehicle tires and doing so in wider areas, away from the main travel path. The top speed limit in snow requiring chains is 35 mile per hour and when encountering flashing amber lights, motorists should move over into another lane or slow down, added Knadler.
There are resources to prevent accidents and prepare motorists for upcoming weather hazards on the roadways.
- The California Road Report application can be downloaded on a mobile device and shows Caltrans road conditions in California, chain control, CHP incidents, rest stops and highway cameras.
- Another resource is to text 2-1-1 from a mobile device. This routes assistance to the nearest call center and can help people with hearing disabilities access 9-1-1.
- Cell phone users can call 5-1-1 to hear announcements for road conditions on major roadways.
- Caltrans provides an application called Quickmap. It can be downloaded at Quickmap.dot.ca.gov to show where snow plows are located and current road closures. People can also call 1-800-427-ROAD to check conditions before leaving.