The holiday travel season is here and the weather remains unpredictable, so the Iowa State Patrol has some advice for staying safe when road conditions become difficult.
Sgt. Randy Steinkamp, of the ISP, said that when roads become icy and hazardous there are ways to minimize the potential for accidents.
"Slow down and increase your distance between vehicles," he said. "Do not set your cruise control, and allow more time to get to your destination if the roads are slick."
-Messenger file photo
Blowing snow can make travel difficult and potentially hazardous — several vehicles seem to almost disappear in the white haze on Iowa Highway 175 near Gowrie during January 2013.
The driver has more control of the vehicle without cruise control, he said.
"With cruise control, it'll take you a little longer to react if the car starts spinning out," Steinkamp said.
If a there is an accident, Steinkamp said it's important to stay inside the vehicle.
Items to have when traveling
Cell phone and car charger
Full tank of gas
Matches, candle and coffee can
Food and water
"Call 911 and try to remember where the location is at," he said. "They're easier to find if they do go in the ditch."
Sometimes the weather prevents an immediate response from law enforcement.
"If it's a major blizzard, where it's going to be going on for awhile, you might be stranded in your vehicle," Steinkamp said.
If that happens, there are still ways of keeping safe.
"We recommend a survival kit, like having a coffee can with matches and a candle," Steinkamp said. "Also have some type of food and water. Something that, if you're going to be there for an extended period of time, you have a little bit to eat and a bit to survive on."
It's also recommended to travel with a cell phone and a full tank of gas.
In bad conditions, it's best to slow down, he said, and always wear seat belts.
But if the conditions are extremely perilous, Steinkamp said travelers might be safest by postponing their road trips.
"If you don't need to be traveling, don't be on the roads," he said.
"But if you have to be out in it, watch the road conditions and the weather."