Winter Driving

Winter driving can be hazardous even for experienced drivers. Listen to your local radio or television station and obey the instructions of the governor or local authorities. If they say not to drive, then stay home. If you have to travel, be sure your vehicle is equipped with emergency supplies in case you find yourself stuck on the side of a road.

If you must drive during a snowstorm, reduce speed, use windshield wipers and turn on the low beam headlights.

  • Reduce speed by more than half for packed snow and slow to a crawl on ice.
  • When driving in winter weather, try not to use excessive pressure on your brakes when slowing down. Slow down sooner than you normally would.
  • When you are starting or stopping on snowy or icy roads, increase or decrease your speed slowly. Get the feel of the road, then move in second gear or higher.
  • Maintain extra distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If you start to slide, steer in the direction of the skid.
  • If your tires are spinning, put your car in neutral.
  • When you stop, keep your foot off the brake and let the engine slow the vehicle.
  • Watch for shady spots, bridges and overpasses that freeze first as the temperature drops.
  • Watch for other drivers.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times to prevent moisture from freezing the lines.
  • Carry emergency tools in case you need to dig out of snow. Tools include an ice scraper, windshield de-icer, a whisk broom, collapsible shovel, bag of sand or kitty litter for tire traction, jumper cables, tool kit, and a can of compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair.
  • If your car has become stuck in the snow and it looks like you will be there for awhile, have warm blankets, bottled water and snacks on hand. People can become dehydrated in cold weather. Crack your windows to let in oxygen.
  • Stay in the car. Do not leave to search for assistance. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Have a first aid kit, waterproof matches, and a metal can in which to melt snow if the situation becomes desperate. One small candle inside the car will keep you warm enough to survive the cold. Be careful with the open flame, however.
  • Have a can opener in your car if you have canned foods in your emergency supply kit.
  • Pack a brightly colored cloth or road signs to attract attention of passing motorists who can report your situation to law enforcement.
  • If you leave your car running, scrape away any snow or debris from your exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning inside your car.
  • If you are shoveling snow from your car, do not overexert yourself. Take frequent breaks and get plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Shovel a few inches at a time and don’t throw snow over your shoulder or twist to the side. Improper movements can create too much stress on your back.
  • Dress warmly in layers of loose-fitting and lightweight clothing. Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.
  • Use newspapers, maps, and even the car mats for added insulation.