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Commuters unprepared for High Sierras snowstorm

To live in California is to commute. Almost anywhere you live, your job lies elsewhere, so commuting becomes the norm. Even with carpooling and public transit, that's still a lot of Californians in vehicles jockeying for position on the freeways and streets.

Inevitably, deadly disasters occur, as was the case recently in the Sierras on I-80 by Crystal Springs. A freak late-late summer snowstorm blew through the high Sierras on the last day of the season, catching motorists unaware.

Snow, hail snarl traffic

A person was killed in a 16-car chain-reaction collision that occurred in the middle of a workday. The fatality happened last month on the stretch of freeway that runs between the towns of Cisco Grove and Emigrant Gap, blocking traffic for nearly four hours.

Because the late summer snow and hailstorm arrived so early, many drivers were unprepared. They didn't have snow tires on or chains in their trunks.

Commuters should be prepared for emergencies

One way to reduce the likelihood of getting into an accident on your commute to work or any other time is to drive a well-maintained vehicle. It doesn't have to be a newer model, but regular maintenance is vital. Keep safety equipment in your vehicle for unexpected traffic events.

Commuter safety tips

Here are some additional ways to keep safe when commuting:

  • Adjust your mirrors. Eliminate blind spots by readjusting your side mirrors to align with the areas not covered by the rear view mirror. A simple lane change can be deadly if you don't realize another driver sped up next to you.
  • Develop alternate routes. It makes good sense to know a few different ways to get to your destination. That way you can avoid road congestion or adverse driving conditions.
  • Avoid tickets or worse. It's a fact that simple traffic stops all-too-frequently wind up with the death or serious injury of the stopped motorist. Don't be that driver. Sometimes agreeing with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer is enough to encourage him to let you off with a warning. Regardless, remain unfailingly polite and completely nonthreatening.
  • Use a secure device mount. If you use a GPS device for navigation, make sure to have it securely mounted so you don't have to look away from the road to glance at it or search for it if it falls on the floor.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how safety-conscious you are. Accidents still happen.

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