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28 Feb and Personal Injury Lawyer Mark A Doughty

Planning on driving up to the Snow during the Winter Months? Stay safe while traveling in cold, wet, and possibly icy conditions: it’s important to plan ahead and leave distance around your vehicle for a Safe and Happy New Year! Keep reading our BLOGS to get more Travel Safety Tips for your travels during this holiday season.

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Ten Safety Tips for Winter Road Trips
Charlotte Walters, Yahoo Contributor Network
Driving on Ice
Winter Safety
Car Kit

10 Tips for Safe Winter Travel on U.S. Roads

1.) Have Good Maps
Before taking a road trip in the winter, always map out your routes ahead of time. Do not assume that your GPS devices will always work during the trip. Have paper maps with marked routes that at least one of you understands. In winter weather, staying on the interstates instead of detouring around large cities is usually a good idea. It is better to be stuck in traffic and be near emergency services than to be stranded on a lonely or dangerous side road. Bring along printouts with information about possible stopping points along the way. Call ahead to hotels and get information or make reservations. Have some alternative options.

2.) Share Contact Information
Give a copy of your plan to a reliable friend or relative. The information should include an estimated arrival time at various major points along the way, and contact information such as cell phone numbers or the phone numbers of places where you plan to stay overnight. You should plan to contact the friend/relative from time to time with a progress report, or if you are significantly delayed. If there are people waiting for you at the final destination, they should receive copies of the travel plan and contact information as well.

3.) Prepare the Vehicle
Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a tune-up. Check belts and replace if worn. Carry extra belts if possible. Clean the battery terminals using a baking soda mixture and a small brush. During the trip, check all fluids regularly, including the windshield washer fluid. Carry extra oil. Always keep the gas tank at least half full. This helps to keep water vapor out of the gas line, and if you were stopped in your vehicle for a long time, this would allow you to run the heater at intervals.

4.) Winter Emergency Car Kit
As every winter approaches, any vehicle that will be traveling in winter weather should have an emergency kit, which includes road flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables, spare tire with correct pressure, can of tire inflate/sealant, folding shovel, chains, traction mats (or kitty litter), ice scraper, extra wiper blades, can of de-icer or WD-40, insulated pliers, screwdrivers, socket wrench, roll of wire, bungee cords, duct tape, 50ft cord (used as a homing line in blizzard), and an empty container to carry gas or water. Remember never to carry extra gasoline inside a vehicle! This list may seem large, but it is incomplete. These are just the basics. If your vehicle is stopped in an ice storm or blizzard, move some of these items inside the car; your trunk may freeze shut.

5.) Pack for Winter Safety
These “people items” could be included in the emergency car kit above. Carry an orange reflective emergency vest, “Help Needed” windshield shade sign, first aid kit and manual, flashlight with fresh batteries, instant chemical hot packs and body warmers like mylar space blankets, plastic bags to wear between layers of clothing to repel moisture and retain body heat, emergency drinking water, and non perishable, high calorie foods.

6.) Internet and Radio Communications
Always be sure to check the Travel Alerts on the Internet if you have the capability, or keep the car radio tuned to the designated AM channels specifically for road travelers. Every U.S. State has their own Department of Transportation (DOT) website; look for a button or link titled Travel Alerts. This will provide information on specific parts of certain state and interstate roads most likely to be affected by weather, construction, and road closures.

Because cell phones have limited battery life, it is wise to have a backup means of communication. The inexpensive choice is FRS radio; you can find these at the local Radio Shack or Wal-Mart. They run on ordinary batteries. FRS Channel 1 is the nationwide emergency channel. The range is limited, and works best using line-of-sight, so climbing to a high spot will help the signal reach farther. CB radio is a bit more expensive, and some units are battery-powered. Channel 9 is the nationwide emergency channel, however Channel 19 is the most commonly monitored channel (language can be foul) and is used by most long-haul truckers. Generally, truckers are friendly, helpful, skilled people to have around during a vehicle emergency.

7.) Heavy Snow or Blizzard
Despite the best-laid plans, you may drive into dangerous snowy conditions. If you can see the vehicle in front of you, keep going forward, because if you stop on the road you could be struck from behind. If the snow is totally blinding, try to pull over just enough to get out of the path of other vehicles and wait out the storm. Pulling too far off the road might cause you to go down an embankment. If your vehicle becomes stranded in deep snow, stay with your car. Attach a bright marker of some kind. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow before starting the engine to run your heater. A plugged exhaust causes carbon monoxide gas to build up inside the car, quickly killing those inside!

8.) Icy Driving Conditions
Before you leave on a road trip, review with all the drivers of the vehicle how to correctly brake and steer in slippery conditions. Depending on whether it has anti-lock brakes and front or rear wheel drive, methods will vary. Cars are heavy objects. They have a lot of inertia. On ice, when something heavy is moving without any friction to slow it down, it just keeps on going! The heavier the vehicle, the more inertia it has. When driving on ice, slow the speed gradually to a crawl. Go twice as slow as you think you need to. Approach a stop or a turn by starting to slow down at least a half block early. Avoid hills whenever possible. If the car gets stuck, use a mat or sprinkle cat litter under the drive wheels for traction.

9.) Driving Near Trucks and Snow Plows
Remember that big trucks take longer to stop, and they are top heavy so that having to swerve out of the way could cause them to tip over. Do not cut in front of them! If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it or use caution when passing. The road behind a snowplow will be safer to drive on. Don’t tailgate the plow; stay about 15 car lengths behind it. The plow operator’s field of vision is limited, so don’t assume that they can see you.

10.) Suggested Cross Country Routes
Traveling from San Francisco on the west coast to Boston on the east coast, the best winter routes would include the following: Interstate Route 40 avoids the majority of mountains and keeps the elevations generally lower, making it the best interstate choice in the wintertime. The highest elevation would be just over 7000 ft, at the western edge of the Great Plains leaving New Mexico. I-40 merges with I-75 in Tennessee. At Knoxville, stay on I-75 until it approaches Toledo, Ohio. Take I-80 going east toward Cleveland. This route generally stays open in winter although it is a northerly route, but the advance warning system for severe winter weather travel is a good one.

From Cleveland to Boston, continue east on I-80 all the way into New Jersey, avoiding some of the more troublesome northern routes. At this point you can turn onto I-95 and go right up the coast to Boston. While I-95 is heavily traveled and can have stoppages, you will never be far from emergency services and towns with nice accommodations if the weather turns nasty.

Even if a more southerly route is chosen in the wintertime, an Arctic Low could dip down and bring an ice storm to areas that would normally be temperate. No matter how safe you think a winter route might be, always check the weather forecasts and follow the ten travel tips above to keep you and your passengers safe.

If you or a member of your family or friends are involved in a motor vehicle accident–collision, or other injury producing event caused by the negligence of others, call the Law offices of Mark A Doughty at 530-674-1440. Mark A Doughty has been practicing law in California since 1979. He has served the people of northern California and represented them without a fee (in accident cases) unless he recovers for them. For more information, please see


Have a Safe and Happy Holidays from

12 Dec

The Fall and Winter Months are a popular time of year for vacations and road travel. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all bringing cold, wet, and possibly icy conditions, it’s important to plan ahead for a Safe and Happy Holidays!  Keep reading our BLOGS to get more Travel Safety Tips for your travels during this holiday season.

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Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather. For more information on winter driving, the association offers the How to Go on Ice and Snow brochure, available through most AAA offices. Contact your local AAA club for more information.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

•    Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
•    Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
•    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).
•    Always look and steer where you want to go.
•    Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for long-distance winter trips:

•    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.
•    Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
•    Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
•    Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, 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.

Tips for driving in the snow:

•    Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
•    Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
•    The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
•    Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
•    Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
•    Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
•    Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
•    Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

If you or a member of your family or friends are involved in a motor vehicle accident–collision, or other injury producing the event caused by the WRONGFUL CONDUCT of others, call the Law offices of Mark A Doughty at 530-674-1440. Mark A Doughty has been practicing law in California since 1979. He has served the people of Northern California and represented them without a fee unless he recovers for them (in accident cases). For more information, please see

Video WARNING: Drive carefully in Winter conditions!

29 Dec

This is a WARNING from Drive carefully in Winter conditions!

A friend sent me a link to this video below which clearly illustrates the dangers of driving on slick, frozen roads.  If even an “Experienced Tow Truck Driver (now Seeking New Position)” can get caught unprepared, each of us need to be especially cautious while driving in Winter conditions such as rain, ice, black ice, and snow.

It appears that this video was shot in a foreign country, but that doesn’t mean these types of accidents can’t or won’t happen here in the United States.  The Weather Channel’s BLOG titled “Driving Safety Tips: Driving in Snow and Ice” on states “The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions.”  In the BLOG titled “10 Tips for Winter Driving”, author Mark Sedenquist (publisher of RoadTrip America) reminds drivers to SLOW DOWN and “reduce speed by 50 percent in snowy conditions.” 

Remember: arriving to your destination safely is the most important thing of all.

This BLOG was Prepared for you by Mark A. Doughty, attorney-at-law who practices solely in the area of injury and accidents including motor vehicle accidents, motorcycles, trucks, vicious animal attacks and slip and fall cases. You may contact Mr. Doughty by visiting his website at or call 530-674-1440