How to Avoid a Collision in Alaska
December 3rd, 2015 by Eli P
Whether in the cities or out on the highways, auto collisions are a fact of life in the state of Alaska. You can reduce your chances of getting into one by practicing the following safe driving techniques:
- Keep your vehicle in top operating condition. Many collisions happen due to poor maintenance or vehicle neglect.
- Look for potential hazards, such as poor road conditions or drunk drivers, and plan an escape route ahead of time.
- Expect the unexpected. Don’t assume other drivers will do what you think they will do.
- Adjust your speed to suit driving conditions. In some cases, such as the heavy fog that frequently occurs along Alaska’s rugged North Slope area, safety requires going slower than the speed limit.
- Don’t drive drunk, and never text while driving.
Safe Driving Tips
On Alaska’s wide-open roads, these techniques can also help you steer clear of collisions:
- Scan your environment. While driving, make a 180-degree visual sweep of what’s in front of you every 10 to 15 seconds. This provides a “big picture” overview of what’s happening in your driving environment and provides more time to react if something goes wrong.
- Watch out for moose. Every year, Alaska has more than a thousand vehicle-moose collisions, many of which occur in the Southcentral portion of the state. One of the best ways to avoiding hitting a moose is to slow down because the faster you drive, the greater the braking distance. According to the Alaska Driver Manual, slowing down from 70 to 50 mph will cut the breaking distance in half.
- Practice the three-second rule. Following too closely is a leading cause of collisions, as it can block your view of oncoming traffic and not leave enough to time to stop in sudden braking situations. To establish a safe driving distance, locate a fixed point on the roadway ahead of you. After the vehicle immediately in front of you passes that point, start counting one, two, three. If your vehicle reaches that point before the count of three, you are too close and need to allow more space.
Know How to Drive on Snowy Roads
In Alaska, it’s a given the roads will be snowy and icy for much of the year. Smart Alaska drivers invest in quality snow tires and always have snow chains in the vehicle, ready to apply at a moment’s notice. According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, drivers should do the following in snowy and icy conditions:
- Keep a pair of sunglasses or yellow lenses in the car to cut down on glare.
- Allow at least two car lengths between the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph of speed.
- Watch for sudden slowing of traffic due to road conditions. Brake carefully, and only when traveling in a straight line.
- Keep an eye out for black ice at intersections, bridges and underpasses.
- Use low gear when driving down a hill. If you lose control, try to steer your vehicle into a snow bank.
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