Winter Driving Tips

Preparedness

Check with National Weather Service before traveling. The National Weather Service issues winter weather warnings, watches and advisories. Please see www.arh.noaa.gov/hazards.php

No Winter Maintenance: A few major highways are not maintained during the winter months. Travel is strongly discouraged for your safety. Please abide by these warnings as roads are impassable due to extreme weather conditions and may be life threatening. Emergency services and travel assistance are not available. These warnings are noted under Urgent Reports on the 511.Alaska.gov.

Generally the following highways are not maintained during the winter months (October – May). These dates may vary depending on changing weather patterns year-after-year.

Denali Highway

Denali Park Highway (Please contact the Denali National Park for more information)

Taylor Highway

Top-of-the World Highway

McCarthy Road (limited plowing occurs to access airport)

Nome area: Kourgarok Road/Nome-Taylor Highway (closed beyond Milepost 13); Nome-Teller Highway (closed beyond Milepost 8); Council Road (closed beyond Milepost 3); Glacier Creek Road; Saint Mary’s/Mountain Village Road.

Prepare your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is properly equipped for winter driving conditions and/or incase of an emergency. While you should keep your vehicle in top operating condition all year round, it is especially important to get it winterized. Read your owner’s manual and check the following: tire pressure, defroster & heater, battery & lights, motor oil, antifreeze, belts, hoses, filters, brakes, brake fluid, wiper blades and windshield washer fluid. Carry extra provisions in case you get stranded, i.e., flares, candles, blankets, food, shovel, etc.

Reduce speeds. Drive according to road and weather conditions. Remember, the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.

Snow Removal. Watch for snow removal equipment and give them plenty of room. Stay at least 200 feet back and don’t pass on the right. Caution: Snow removal equipment can cause white out conditions when driving too close.

Stay Alert. Large animals crossing Alaska’s highways occur often, i.e. moose, caribou. Watch for snow removal equipment and give them plenty of room. Stay at least 200 feet back and don’t pass on the right.

Wildlife Crossing. Large animals crossing Alaska’s highways occur often, i.e., moose, caribou. Typical caribou migrations occur on the Richardson and Tok-Cutoff Highways, but may occur elsewhere. Caribou notices are generally posted on the 511.Alaska.gov, but you should always remain alert for large animal’s crossing.

Leave plenty of room for stopping. It takes more time to stop when the roads are wet or icy.

Drive with your headlights on. Turn your lights on so others can see you.

Watch for ice on bridges and overpasses. Even when the rest of the road is in good condition. Bridge decks and overpasses ice up first.

Studded tire usage. Studded tires may be used from Sept 15 – May 1st.

Seatbelts saves lives. Wear a safety belt. It’s the law and for your own safety.

Don’t drink and drive, not even with a “buzz.” Drinking and driving don’t mix. Use a designated driver.

Cellular phone coverage is limited. Cellular phone coverage is very sporadic outside Anchorage and Fairbanks. Prepare your vehicle before you travel and check the National Weather Service forecasts.

Slower traffic keep right. Pull over and allow vehicles to safely pass. It is illegal to hold up 5 or more vehicles behind you.

Wait it out! Always plan plenty of time to reach your destination. You do not want to feel rushed into driving through adverse weather conditions. Wait it out!

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