Thanksgiving travel woes get an early start

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anyone who's lived in the high plains has a story -- their own version of "Plains, Trains and Automobiles" and the struggle to try to make it home for Thanksgiving.

Icy roads and blowing snow combined with the tight schedule usually surrounding Christmas's warmup holiday make for some high-stress travel.

People in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas are hoping for a break in the weather for the actual Thanksgiving holiday later this week after a storm dropped more than 10 inches of snow in parts of southwest Oklahoma overnight and caused at least 10 fatal accidents.

As many as 300 flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Monday, after the same storm his California, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona last week.

Hundreds of accidents included one that injured three members of Willie Nelson's band when their bus hit a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, 75 miles northeast of Dallas.

Most of us have many years of experience driving during the winter, but if it's new to you, or you may have forgotten the basics, AAA has some useful tips before you hit the road:

* Avoid driving while you're fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.

* Make certain your tires are properly inflated.

* Never mix radial tires with other tire types.

* Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

* If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

* Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).

* Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

* Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

* Pack a cellular telephone plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.

* If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

* Don't over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.

* Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

* Make sure the exhaust pipe isn't clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.

* Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.

* If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

For a complete list of tips from the AAA, visit http://bit.ly/1fCRUqR

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