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Safety experts say holiday traffic and winter storm could be recipe for disaster

Photo: Deseret News, file, 2017. Credit: Jeffrey D Allred

WASATCH FRONT – With the heavy holiday traffic and snow expected to fall all along the I-15 corridor, safety experts predict there will be no shortage of crashes on roads all over the state.

Some driving instructors estimate there are six thousand new drivers in Utah every year, and training them to drive in the snow is tricky.  Revolution Driving Instruction Manager Alberto Diaz says they teach their students one crucial thing… baby steps.

He says, “We tell our drivers, every time we talk about winter driving, to take a short trip to the store for their first winter lesson.  Very short trips until they get a good grip [on driving].”

They also tell their students to keep an extra close eye on the temperature outside, because tires have less grip on the pavement when it gets below freezing.  Plus, Diaz warns people to get the right kind of washer fluid.  One of his students crashed after he got the wrong one.

“He bought the windshield washer fluid, but it was most likely for the summer.  So, every time he tried to clean his windows, they just got whiter and whiter.  It would pretty much freeze when it fell on the windshield,” Diaz says.

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say your safety checklist needs to go past tires and washer fluid.  They say batteries need to be checked, since it takes more battery power to start a car in cold weather.  They also recommend people check to see their lights are working well, plus you need to ensure their coolant systems are properly functioning.

Analysts with AAA say we’ve seen 11 straight years of increased drivers on the roads during the holidays, and this year will be no exception.

“We expect about four million people to travel to their Thanksgiving destinations this year in the Mountain West Region, which includes Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming,” according to AAA Regional Spokesman Aldo Vasquez.

Over the course of the next few days, Vasquez say they expect to be called out to assist over 368 thousand stranded drivers across the country.

“Most of the time, a lot of the calls we’re getting are for dead batteries, people being locked out of their vehicles, flat tires and for towing,” he says.