Iowa DOT provides safety tips ahead of icy weather

Iowa already has had two large multivehicle pileups this year, icy conditions could create more driving hazards in the next few days.

The Iowa Department of Transportation on Monday urged drivers to evaluate the need to be on the road during poor winter driving conditions.

A fast-moving snowstorm caused multiple crashes Saturday in Iowa, including a 70-car pileup on Interstate 35. That interstate also was the site of a 50-car pileup a few weeks earlier.

As of Monday, Iowa had seen 41 highway fatalities so far this year. That is an increase of almost 52 percent from this time last year and an increase of 41 percent from the five-year average, according to the Iowa DOT.

Portions of Eastern Iowa are expected to see rain or snow this week, particularly Tuesday and Thursday. Temperatures hovering around freezing could lead to slick conditions.

If driving is necessary in treacherous conditions, the Iowa DOT recommends:

? Focus complete attention on driving and put cellphones away.

? Slow down and allow extra travel time.

? Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others.

? Buckle up everyone in the vehicle, including back-seat passengers.

? Do not use cruise control.

? Take extra care if driving a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van or sport utility vehicle or when towing a trailer. Wind gusts are likely to push or flip such vehicles.

? Turn on headlights.

? Keep your windshield clear of ice.

? Postpone a trip, if possible. If you?re already on the road, pull over to a safe place until road conditions improve.

? If your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal and shift into neutral. If you have a manual transmission, depress the clutch. Resist an instinct to slam on the brakes. This might cause your vehicle to slide further and result in loss of control.

? If your vehicle does begin to skid on ice, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid. This should help steer your vehicle back on the right track.

? Stay well behind the vehicle in front of you. You might feel confident that you can drive safely on ice, but the driver in front of you might not be so adept. Be prepared in case other vehicles start to slide.

? Remember, four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over other vehicles in driving on ice.

? If you are in a crash, stay in the vehicle.