Drive smart, drive safe

From staff reports

Holiday travel can be dangerous, especially for Washington State University students. Many have to cross Snoqualmie Pass to get to the west side of the state, and the roads around Pullman can be frosty, icy, snowy, or slick this time of year.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) stresses slower driving and acceleration and “active driving,” which means not using cruise control, keeping safe distances between your vehicle and others and practicing defensive driving techniques and strategies.

Tires are a crucial part of car safety. Make sure they have enough tread, and consider using snow tires if driving in a snowy or icy area. Those unable to purchase snow tires should invest in tire chains, a less expensive alternative for providing traction in poor weather. It is equally important to remember that using tire chains means drivers should not be driving faster than 50 miles per hour, as the chains are likely to fall off and cause damage to your vehicle or others.

Services like AAA can help in the event of a crash or car failure, but having supplies on hand can be the difference between feeling stranded and feeling bored. The WSDOT has a list of recommended items on its website.

Highway 195 and SR-26 will be crowded as students finish finals this week, but the risk of speeding home is not worth starting the vacation a few minutes early. Recent statistics from the U.S. Census suggest that 30 percent of preventable accidents that resulted in death were caused by speeding.

Petitions to expand the highways have been started by WSU students as a result of recent accidents. SR-26 and Highway 195 have both had major WSDOT projects in the last five years, including the passing lanes on SR-26.

With winter break just around the corner, prepare travel plans to allow for slow, careful driving in inclement weather.

Reporting by Nicholas Nguyen