Safe Mountain Driving

It’s no secret that mountain roads can be perilous with many sharp turns, drop-offs, and animals.  According to transportation studies, motor vehicle accidents involving wildlife rank as the third leading cause for crashes behind speeding and inattentive driving.

While some collisions may be unavoidable, motorists can reduce the likelihood of an accident by taking the following precautions:

  • Slow down! Driving more slowly increases reaction time and reduces the chance of a collision.​
  • Stay alert while driving at dusk and dawn. This is when many of Colorado’s wildlife are the most active and are likely to be crossing roadways.
  • Scan ahead and watch for movement along roadsides. When driving at night, watch for shining eyes in headlights. Always look and be prepared for more than one animal.
  • Obey traffic signs and watch for wildlife warning signs.
  • Help oncoming motorists by flashing lights on and off to warn them of animals in/on the roadway.

If you have a collision with an animal, pull over and call the State Patrol (dial *CSP from your cell phone in Colorado) or local law enforcement to report the accident. If the animal is still on the roadway, they can safely remove it.​

In the wintertime, these dangers are compounded by the added threat of slippery, frozen roads.  In order to keep you and your family safe, it is important to follow safety guidelines while driving.

AAA Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly; it takes longer to slow down on icy roads
  • Drive slowly; give yourself time to maneuver and react
  • Increase following time behind other cars from 4-5 second to 8-10 seconds
  • Know your brakes
    • If you have anti-locking brakes (ABS) it’s normal for the pedal to vibrate when pressed firmly
    • In cars without ABS, keep your foot on the brake pedal and apply firm, steady pressure
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it; it’s easier to start a rolling car
  • Don’t power going up hills; your wheels might start to spin
  • Don’t stop going up a hill; it’s easy to slide backwards
  • Stay home; if you don’t have to go out, don’t.

In the case of an emergency, it’s important to be prepared.  Winter driving safety kits are a proven and effective way to stay safe in the winter.  These kits often include:

  • A small shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Radio
  • Water
  • Snack food (Energy Bars)
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares and reflectors
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

Sources

  • Colorado Parks & Wildlife website
  • Colorado Department of Transportation website