Winter Driving Tips
Mammoth Lakes receives some of the heaviest snowfalls anywhere in California. But day after day, no matter how much, how heavy, or how rapidly the snow falls, we count on our snow removal crew to efficiently return our streets to drive able condition. During the winter, this crew works diligently to keep Mammoth Lakes streets and roads snow-free and clear to ensure safe driving for our resident and visitors. You can help their efforts by observing a few simple rules and by being snow smart.
Because of Mammoth's huge snowfalls and the need to remove snow from the roads, there is virtually no permitted parking on any town roads during the winter months from Nov.1st to April 30th. For further clarification about a particular parking area call the Mammoth Lakes Police Department during business office hours at 760-934-2011 ext. 0. For questions and concerns regarding snow removal operations, please call Public Works at 760-934-8989.
Vehicles traveling in the eastern Sierra during winter months are advised to carry chains at all times. You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. Drivers failing to observe the chain controls will be required to stop their vehicles and chain up or you can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don't. If you do not have your chains with you, you will not be able to continue your trip. When you're installing your chains, pull well off the roadway onto the shoulder of the road. Do not stop in the traffic lanes to install or adjust your chains. You can also use the services of a chain installer. Chain installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent chains.
Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions. The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour and will be posted along the highway.
There are three different categories for communicating to the public the degree of hazard present on snow and ice covered roadways. These categories are R-1, R-2 and R-3.
- R1- means chains or snow tires must be on all vehicles except four-wheel-drive;
- R2- means chains required on all vehicles, except four-wheel-drive with snow tires;
- R3 requires chains on all vehicles, no exceptions
Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Excessive speed is an invitation for trouble on snow or ice and is the major cause of traffic accidents during winter. Winter road conditions leave very little margin for driver error and very little opportunity for safe, quick braking. Going too fast definitely increases your chances of being involved in an accident. So please, SLOW DOWN!
After a storm, many roads will soon be clear, but there are places throughout town, especially in shady areas, bridges and under passes where there will be patches of black ice for some time. Late night or early morning hours are especially dangerous since moisture has had a chance to accumulate. So be on the lookout for these spots and slow down before you get to them.
Big storms create stress on everyone. There are chains to deal with, decks and driveways to clear, and just getting around can be more of a problem. So please remember, patience and courtesy go a long way.
Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay. It is also a good idea to take along water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them.
Keep windshield and windows clear. Carry in your car an ice scraper or commercial deicer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free your car if it's "snowed in", sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow and an old towel to clean your hands. You may want to stop at a safe turnout to use a snow brush or scraper. Use the car defroster and keep the windows free of snow and fog.
Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles, snow equipment and wildlife. Even though snow removal vehicles have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow moving equipment.
When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.
CalTrans officials urge you to check road conditions often. To help keep you abreast of changing conditions, CalTrans operates the CalTrans Highway Information Network which motorist may telephone. Call 800-427-7623 for up to the minute information. The network is updated as conditions change. For Nevada road conditions call 877-687-6237.
Excerpts taken from the TOML Public Facilities Maintenance Division Brochure