North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Spring weather a reminder to consider driving needs

Vehicle maintenance and driving habits are important considerations as the weather warms up.


Hi all, long time no talk. The winter months have been busy for us, and no doubt for all of you as well, I am sure.

We now find ourselves fully transitioning out of winter and quickly into spring. This time of year should be more than just recognizing the change in the weather. Just as we spoke about a few months ago, the changing seasons are also our cue to prepare ourselves for the challenges and changes that happen in regards to our vehicles and to driving.

The spring season is a great time to start preparing our vehicles for the dry and hot summer months. Spring changeover also means de-winterizing our vehicles. For many of us, this means removing our studded snow tires. This is important for two reasons. First of all, Washington State law mandates that studded snow tires be removed no later than April 1 of this year. The only possible extension would be if the state allows for that timeline to be moved later in the unlikely event of cold and snowy weather. Failure to remove snow tires by the set deadline can result in being issued a traffic infraction for the offense.

Secondly, snow tires are designed to stay soft and functional in very cold weather. These kinds of tires do not handle warm temperatures very well, and they can quickly wear down if they are not removed. Snow tires are an expensive investment, and it is wise to take them off as soon as reasonable to save that investment for the next cold winter season.

Spring is also a great time to replace and restock key items in your vehicle. I always recommend to my students in Drivers Ed to consider replacing windshield wipers as we enter springtime. Windshield wipers can get worn and brittle during winter time, and the harsh de-icer chemicals and iced-over windshields can take a toll on the rubber blade of the wiper. Wipers are a critical piece of your vehicle. You can only drive as well as you are able to see the roadway and the hazards in front of you. Good wipers will give you the best possible vision on the roads, and for only about $30, you can replace them yourself in just a few minutes. If you are unsure or uninterested in how to do this yourself, your local tire dealer or oil change company can do it for a relatively low cost.

Speaking of oil changes, spring is a great time to have all fluid levels checked. The winter months and cold weather are tough on the fluids in your car, and a quick oil change and fluid check can go a long ways to prolonging the life of your car. The technicians can take a look at other parts of your car such as the air filters, brakes, and suspension for maintenance items to consider during this time of year.

Lastly, moving into the spring time of year presents its own unique driving challenges. The frequency of rain starts to slow down usually, and the frequency of sunny days starts to increase. This, combined with the angle of the sun and the increasing length in daylight, are an adjustment for us as drivers. As police officers, we are already seeing an increase in collisions due to people being blinded by the sun or having limited visibility due to sunlight. Please remember that it is your responsibility to adjust your driving behavior and driving attitude to whatever Mother Nature presents you with out there.

With a little bit of planning and a willingness to identify changes in the season and adapt to those changes, we can all be a little bit safer out there. Have a great day, and drive safe folks.

Peter Barrett is an Arlington police officer and a driving instructor for 911 Driving School in Marysville.


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