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Be Prepared Behind the Wheel

Overview

Picture of a winding road in winter
Bad weather and road construction are not only frustrating, they require more focused attention to driving.
 
This page gives you a way to stay on top of what is happening on the roadways as well as tips for driving in the snow, ice, fog and rain, along with what to have in your car in case there is an emergency.

Weather and Construction Updates
Information on road conditions in Oregon is available through TripCheck, a one-stop shop for information on traveling in Oregon. TripCheck can be accessed via a web site, by phone, or with a mobile application. It has the latest conditions via road cameras, continuous winter travel updates, year-round highway construction details, and other valuable tips to get people where they need to go. Call (800) 977-ODOT (6368) or 511 within Oregon, or click here to access this information online. 

Snow & Ice
Snow and ice are typical occurrences during Oregon’s winters. These conditions call for different driving tactics.  Drivers should check the local forecast and road conditions before embarking on a trip.  If driving is required during icy or snowy road conditions, click here for tips from the Weather Channel. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has also produced a video on how to install cable style tire chains.

Fog
Fog is common in Oregon. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you cannot postpone your trip until dense fog lifts, wait until the fog dissipates usually by late morning or the afternoon. Click here for tips from the Weather Channel.

Rain
If there is one thing Oregon gets a lot of it is rain. While the state enjoys all the benefits of rain, it can cause problems when driving, particularly if the car skids on wet pavement or hydroplanes. Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of the tires builds up faster than the car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes the car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between the tires.  Click here for tips from the Weather Channel on what to do if you car skids or hydroplanes.
 
Flooded roadways are another problem. As little as six inches of moving water can knock someone off their feet; two feet of floodwater can float a car; and water moving at two mph is capable of sweeping a car off a road or bridge. Avoid flood-susceptible areas, especially low-lying streets where water commonly pools. Never attempt to walk or drive through a water-covered roadway, and beware of rising, swift-moving water. If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. If barricades block the route, find another way. State and local officials use barricades to protect travelers from unsafe roads and driving around them can be a serious risk.

Emergency Supplies
Picture of a man shoveling snow away from a vehicle
The famous Boy Scout motto “be prepared” is a good one because Oregon weather can be unpredictable. You should keep a "survival kit" in the car and replenish after use. Essential supplies include:
  • Working flashlight and extra batteries
  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
  • Compass
  • First Aid Kit
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string/cord
  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
  • Bottled water
  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Bag of salt or cat litter
  • Tool kit
In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets.

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