Motoring Tahoe’s slippery roads: Winter driving tips to live by
  • Tahoe Magazine

    Accidents, traffic tickets, injuries: three ways to quickly ruin your winter weekend and freeze up personal finances.

    While Tahoe’s Sierra Nevada slopes are known for their epic ski chutes and black diamond runs, Placer County Sheriffs point out the terrain also creates treacherous driving conditions and they’ve offered a few pointers for drivers.

    1. Red lights still mean stop: many drivers are caught running red lights when their tires lose traction and they continue into an intersection. This is a result of going too fast.

    2. Four-wheel confusion: Four-wheel drive tourists unfamiliar with driving in snow occasionally overestimate their vehicle’s ability to stop and corner. Allow greater distances between vehicles and keep it slow.

    3. Chain reaction: Sheriffs recall the tragic incident when a man was crushed by a vehicle as he lay just off the highway putting on chains. This type of accident is common; pull well off the roadway if you need to chain up.

    4. Monster trucks, monster mash: Big-tired, lifted trucks and jeeps encounter the most problems in the snow. This is due to two factors — the idea they are invincible and a higher center of balance makes them prone to rolling.

    5. Pick-up traction satisfaction: Traction equals control and control equals safety; those with pick-up trucks need to weight their rear tires. Locals use wet hay bails to add heft.

    6. Bailing in the berms: If caught in a slide, steer your vehicle into the closest berm of snow — especially if you’re headed for an intersection.

    7. Clean your plate: Snow mounts on hoods, windshields and mirrors. Make sure — despite snow — that your license plate is clearly visible, as it could give you a citation.

    8. Ignorance is not bliss: Don’t be ignorant about chain restrictions. Citations aside, it’s just common sense to chain up when it’s posted.

    9. Rising ridges: When climbing a steep hill and unable to get traction to get up it, a tip is to straddle the ridge of the road where soft snow has collected. The textured surface is sometimes enough for tires to slowly push your vehicle upward.

    10. Goodie bag: Have extra warm clothing, food and water in your vehicle. Also a medkit and extra winter windshield washer fluid is another must.