CHP Officer Pete Mann of the Truckee office said that minutes before this driver crashed on a Tahoe road he had warned the man about being easy on the gas and brakes while driving in the snow. The driver told Mann he slid off the road after braking too hard. Photo by Officer Mann

Going to Tahoe? Or elsewhere to the snow?

Then here’s some safety tips from CHP Officer Pete Mann of the Truckee office to help you avoid ending up like the driver in the photo:

1. Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t rush when you’re driving on snow or ice. Conditions can change suddenly in the Sierra during winter, turning a three-hour trip to 10 hours.

“Plan for the unexpected,” Mann says.

2.If you haven’t put on chains before or not on the vehicle you’re using, practice at home where it’s warmer and you’re not dealing with snow and ice.

3. Bring extra clothing, water, food — “something like Cliff Bars will give you energy” — and appropriate footwear.

“I’ve seen people putting on chains in their flip-flops,” Mann says.

When driving on snowy or icy roads, he says drivers need to go easy on the gas to avoid spinning and easy on the brakes to avoid sliding and not make hard, jerky steering moves.

For chains, Mann says drivers are required to carry them when driving in winterized areas, regardless of the weather.

There are three types of chain-control declarations issued by Caltrans:

–R1:┬áChains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles, except 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles.

–R2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, except 4-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires (marked on sidewalls as M/S, M+S or such) on all four wheels.

–R3:┬áChains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

Mann says R3 declarations basically don’t happen because by the time road conditions become that bad, the highways have been closed for hours.

The speed limit when using chains is 30 mph on Interstate 80 and 25 mph on Highway 50 and other roads, he says.

Mann says the CHP office in Truckee prepares its officers for winter driving by borrowing a large, snow-covered parking lot and sending the officers through various driving challenges to get used to driving on snow and ice.

Most officers carry extra food and water for themselves and in case they come across stranded motorists, he says.

For those going to Tahoe, Mann says residents up there have a request: If you’re driving slow and more than five vehicles are following you, pull over when safe to let them pass.


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