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Be prepared for winter driving

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Snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures of winter weather can come with little or no warning and can create treacherous driving conditions.  The Department of Health is reminding Tennesseans to plan ahead to avoid dangerous winter travel problems.

Here are some suggestions on planning and preparing for driving in winter weather:

•   Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your vehicle at all times. This helps avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines and will allow you to keep power and heat in the vehicle if you find yourself lost or stranded.

•   Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle. This should include a blanket; water; food such as energy bars; a compact shovel; a windshield scraper and small broom; a flashlight with fresh batteries; first aid supplies; a charger for your cell phone; an ice scraper; booster cables; hand warmers; gloves and extra clothing. A bag of sand or kitty litter can help provide traction should you get stuck on a slick road.

•   Before traveling, have a mechanic inspect your vehicle to ensure it is road-worthy for winter. This should include a check of the battery, the anti-freeze and tires. Replace windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture. Also ask for a check of the exhaust system; a leaky exhaust system could cause dangerous carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment.

•   Dress for the weather even though you'll be inside a vehicle. Wear layers including warm socks, a scarf, a hat, gloves and shoes or boots you can walk in.

•   Carry an extra set of car keys in case you get locked out of your vehicle.

•   Don't warm up your vehicle inside a closed garage; doing so could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

•   Make plans for meeting friends or loved ones before you start your trip. DON'T text and drive!

•   Always tell someone your travel route and when you plan to arrive and return. If road conditions are poor and you don't have to drive, stay at home or use public transportation.

•   Keep an eye out for deer, especially at dusk and dawn. Deer-related traffic accidents are more common during fall and winter months.

•   Check road conditions before departing by visiting the Tennessee Department of Transportation's SmartWay website www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or calling the 5-1-1 driver information line. TDOT also offers multiple Twitter feeds and a SmartWay mobile app for smartphone users.

•   If you need help on the road, call *THP (*847) for assistance from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Find road safety tips from THP online at www.tn.gov/safety/10things2know.shtml.

For more tips on preparing for winter weather, visit www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

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