Winter Driving Safety Tips Driving in Snow and Ice
Driving in the winter means snow, sleet, and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers, and unforeseen dangers. To help you make it safely through winter, here are some suggestions from the National Safety Council to make sure that you and your vehicle are prepared.
The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
Don’t adventure out until the snow plows and salt trucks have had a chance to clear the roadways. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
If you must venture out into the snowy conditions, make sure you have winterized your car and that you are familiar with driving on snow and ice covered roads.
Driving in Snow and Ice:
- Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full in case of becoming stranded.
Winterize your Car:
Take your vehicle to your local mechanic and have them winterize your vehicle for you. They will check tire pressure; tread depth, battery condition, and all fluids to make sure your vehicle is in good running conditions for the winter weather.
Necessary Equipment to Carry in Your Vehicle:
- Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench, and jack.
- Jumper cables
- Tow chains and tire chains
- Bag of sand, kitty litter, or salt
- Emergency tool kit
- Working flashlight with extra batteries
- Reflective triangles or road flares
- Bright colored cloth
- First Aid Kit
- Exterior Windshield Cleaner
- Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
- Matches and candles
- Blankets, gloves, hats, socks, and coats
- Non-perishable, high-energy foods like canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy
What to do if you Become Stranded Along the Roadside:
- Don’t leave your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are and how far it is to help.
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of your vehicle a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna or hang it out a window.
- Make sure your exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow and ice. You can run your engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending on the amount of gasoline in your tank. Be sure to crack at least one window to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the extra clothing in your vehicle along with blankets to stay warm.
Keep at least one window open slightly, heavy snow and ice can seal a vehicle shut.