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story.lead_photo.caption An ice scraper is the best tool to remove snow and ice from a vehicle's windshield and side and back windows. Photo by Christy Busby Worsham / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — Officials recommend staying off the road as much as possible during the inclement weather the Texarkana area is currently experiencing. But for those who do have to drive for various reasons, local mechanics and auto repairmen want you to be as safe as possible with some key tips and advice.

Doug Ouellette, owner of M&M Tire and Auto Center in Texarkana, Arkansas, originally lived in Maine before moving down South. So, he knows a thing or two about driving in the snow.

He said the first thing you should check before pulling out of the driveway and onto the snowy road is the tread on your tires.

"First of all, when you come up to your vehicle, make sure you have plenty of tread on your tires," Ouellette said.

"There's a tread wear indicator on your tire that you can feel to see if you've got plenty. If you don't have any tread, you don't need to be driving at all."

Other preventative measures before getting on the street include warming the car up and clearing the ice off the windshield.

"If you're going to work tomorrow and your vehicle is outside, I'd give it at least a half an hour to run and warm up," he said. "We always used to give it up to 30 minutes up in Maine."

Chris Smith, a sales specialist at AutoZone, said he would recommend the use of a scraper, as opposed to hot water, to clear a windshield of ice or snow.

"I would recommend a scraper, just not using any fluid," Smith said. "Most people will use hot water, but it'll crack your windshield if you pour hot water on a frozen windshield. So, use a scraper and maybe some de-icer, if you have it."

Once on the road, Ouellette said it's important to know which gear the car should be in for optimal travel.

"If you've got four-wheel drive, put it in four-wheel drive, so you're able to go any place you want to," he said. "But if you don't, the best thing I can tell you is to put it in second gear. The second gear will keep you in low gear and give you more control of your vehicle."

He also said to prepare to stop earlier than usually when approaching a stop sign or red light.

"Instead of stopping where you'd normally stop, I'd give myself an extra 20 feet or so before that red light or stop sign," he said. "If you're going down a hill, I'd definitely put it in that low gear. And if you still find yourself sliding and you can't seem to brake at all, the best thing you can do is put your emergency brake on, if you can. Then turn your wheel to the opposite way where it's heading."

Ultimately, Ouellette said the best thing a driver can do in these conditions is be patient.

"If you do go out, don't try to pass anybody," he said. "That's the worst thing you can do. Just be patient. I've seen people hurrying and you've got to get some place. But when you're in this type of weather you've got to be very patient and just stay behind that person, even if they're going slow."

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