Winter Driving and Vehicle Safety

In the winter, drivers must take extra precautions to avoid accidents on icy and snowy roads. To start with, drivers should prepare their vehicles for winter driving. Additionally, drivers should adopt winter driving practices to keep them safe when on the road. 

Prepare Your Vehicle for WinterPicture of traffic at a stoplight during snowy conditions

  • If your vehicle is straining to start, be sure to have your battery checked.
  • Check the tire pressure, tread life, and consider replacing tires with all-weather or snow tires. 
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield reservoir, and make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. 
  • Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Store booster cables, flares, tire pump, and a bag of sand or cat litter for traction.
  • Prepare a winter emergency kit in your vehicle in case you become stranded. The emergency kit should include:
    • Cell phone and a portable charger
    • Items to stay warm, such as blankets, gloves, hats and coats.
    • Water, snacks (non-perishable), flash light and extra batteries.
    • First-aid kit    

Driving Safety

  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even death.
  • Don't leave your car running unattended, which will make it a target for auto theft. 
  • When driving on snow or slippery surfaces, slow down and increase your distance between vehicles.
  • Accelerate slowly to help gain better traction on icy and snowy roads.
  • Take extra precaution on bridges and overpasses, as they will become icy earlier than other roadways.
  • Snow tires still lose traction on ice, so don't think you can drive at normal speeds because you have snow tires.
  • Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. The safest place to drive is behind a snow plow, since it's pushing snow off the lane it's in. If you do decide to pass a snow plow, give extra room and use caution while passing.
  • Decelerate slowly. Don't slam on your brakes, as it could put your vehicle into an immediate skid.  If you do begin to skid, take your foot off your accelerator.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have an antilock braking system or not will determine how to apply your brakes in icy and slippery conditions. Your owner’s manual should describe your braking system and how to operate your vehicle in slippery conditions. 

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