View from Snow Summit on Ego Trip run with Big Bear Lake in the far distance 1 of 2 main entrances to The Village All Seasons Resort Rentals, Big Bear Lake CA Boulder Bay, Big Bear Lake
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Winter Driving Tips
Winter driving on roads and highways in the snowcapped mountains of California can be a pleasant adventure or it can be frustrating, tiring and sometimes even hazardous. The California Department of Transportation provides the following information to help make your mountain driving safe and pleasant.

Before Heading for Snow Country:

  • Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition.
  • Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures. You may want to add special solvent to your windshield washer reservoir to prevent icing.
  • Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition.
    Always carry traction devices. Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order. You might want to take along a flashlight and chain repair links. Traction devices must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
  • Other suggested items to carry in your car are an ice scraper or commercial deicer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free you car if it is "snowed in", sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow and an old towel to clean your hands.
  • It is also a good idea to take along water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them.
  • Put an extra car key in you pocket. A number of motorists have locked themselves out of their cars when putting on traction devices and at ski areas.

Driving Tips:

  • Allow enough time. Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter that other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
  • Keep windshield and windows clear. You may want to stop at a safe turnout to use a snow brush or scraper. Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.
  • Slow down. a highway speed of 65 miles an hour may be safe in dry weather but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
  • Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles that have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow moving equipment.
  • When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.

Chain Requirements

  • R1: Traction devices required - snow tread tires allowed.
  • R2: Traction devices required.
  • R3: Traction devices required - all vehicles - no exceptions.
  • R1 and R2 are the most common conditions. The highway is usually closed before an R3 condition is imposed.

Traction Device Controls

  • You must stop and put on traction devices when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don't. You will usually have about a mile between "Chains Required" signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
  • Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions.
  • The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour and will be posted along the highway.
  • When you put on traction devices, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.
  • Traction device Installers: If you use the services of a traction device installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer's badge number on it. Remember, traction device installers are independent business people, not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Traction device installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent traction devices.
  • When removing traction devices, drive beyond the signs reading "End of Chain Control" to a pull-off area where you can safely remove them.

Caltrans Highway Information Network

Caltrans officials urge you to check road conditions often. To help keep abreast of changing conditions, Caltrans operates the Caltrans Highway Information Network which motorists may telephone - 1-800-427-7623 - for up-to-the-minute information in California and Western Nevada (Lake Tahoe/Reno Area). The network is updated as conditions change.

1-800-427-7623 (ROAD)

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