Tips to stay safe on Nevada roads this winter

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada winters can bring harsh and quickly-changing weather conditions. Driving hazards such as limited visibility, black ice, avalanche-prone areas and snow removal equipment are just some elements that may be encountered on winter roads.

The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) works to clear Nevada roads for safe winter travel, with maintenance experts plowing and applying anti-icing and de-icing chemicals and sand to keep winter roads safe for winter driving.

When driving in inclement weather:

-Only travel in winter weather when necessary, leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy/icy areas and steep hills

-Before driving, check weather and road conditions by dialing 511 within Nevada (or 1-877-NV-ROADS outside of Nevada)

-Share your travel itinerary so others know when to expect you

-Remove snow and ice from all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights, turn signals and license plates

-Buckle up

-Turn on headlights to see and be seen

-Turn off cruise control

-Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually

-Reduce speed. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions

-Do not slam on brakes. Apply steady pressure on ABS-equipped vehicles and pump the brakes if necessary on non-ABS vehicles

-Always comply with all posted chain requirements

-If your vehicle has snow tires, install and use them between October 1 and April 30

-Keep additional distance from other vehicles

-Watch carefully for snow removal equipment

-Do not pass without good distance and sight clearance

-Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas- they may freeze first

-Maintain a high fuel level

-If vehicle begins to skid, steer in direction of slide and slowly remove foot from accelerator

-Be aware of black ice

-If parked or stuck in snow, leave window slightly cracked for ventilation and make sure vehicle exhaust system is clear of snow

-Always carry tire chains, especially when traveling in mountain passes or typically snowy areas

-Remember 4-wheel-drive vehicles cannot necessarily turn or stop any better than 2-wheel-drive vehicles

Items officials stress to carry with you in your car include:

-Tire chains / tow strap
-Spare batteries
-Ice scraper
-Cell phone for emergency communication (do not use while driving)
-Snow shovel
-Jumper cables
-Small bag of sand for wheel traction
-Extra winter clothes / coat / gloves / socks
-Blanket or sleeping bag
-Non-perishable foods / water
-First aid supplies / prescription medication
-Battery-operated radio
-Candles / matches or lighter
-State map for navigation in event of winter detour

While it's important to take it slow, officials say to trust your gut when it comes to leaving your home.

"Don't drive in extreme weather conditions, and if you do have to drive, remember to buckle up, drive slowly, always make sure you're watching the road ahead and especially in inclement weather give space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you," Meg Ragonese, Public Information Officer with NDOT said.

When driving near snowplows, it's important to take it slow to stay safe. Officials urge you to:

-Use caution when following, passing or approaching snow removal equipment.

-Drive a safe distance behind snowplows. Plows often travel slower than other vehicles to remove snow, apply sand and liquid anti-icers and assist stranded vehicles.

-Before attempting to pass snow removal equipment, check direction of snow discharge to avoid snow and debris thrown from equipment. Remember that plows are wider than most vehicles and portions of the plow and blade may be obscured by blowing snow.

-Don’t crowd the plow.

-Only pass snow removal vehicles when a safe, legal passing area is available and adequately clear of snow and/or treated with salt and sand.

-Don’t travel beside a snowplow. They can shift sideways after hitting snow packs or drifts.

-When a plow approaches you, allow the plow room to operate by reducing speed and moving to the right side of the road if there is room to safely do so.

-Do not brake with unnecessary sudden movements when in front of a snowplow - plows cannot stop as quickly as an automobile.

-Don’t drive through white out conditions caused by swirling snow around a snowplow. Safely pull to the side or slow to allow visibility to improve.

-Remember that a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.

"We all play a part," Ragonese said. "We at NDOT are really privileged to help keep winter roads clear for drivers, but it also is incumbent on drivers to take the responsibility to drive slowly, make sure they're being a responsible winter driver for not only for their own safety but the safety of everyone else on the road."

Before driving, you can dial 511 (1-877-NV-ROADS outside of Nevada) or log on to for Nevada state road conditions.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019