How to be Safe While Driving in Winter Weather

Author: Dabney Weems

With winter weather in the forecast, now is the time to prepare. To remain safe during this time, the best thing you can do is not drive on the roads, but if you must, plan ahead and review how to operate your vehicle in winter weather.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Before you hit the road, it’s a good rule of thumb to prepare your vehicle ahead of time. The lower temperatures can cause tire pressure and battery power to drop and may cause moisture to freeze the gas lines. Check your tire pressure, test your battery and keep your gas tank at least half full.

Make sure your wiper fluid is rated for minus 30 degrees and replace wiper blades, if needed. Your tires should have a tread of 2/32” or more. If the tread is less than that, the tires should be replaced. And remember, your emergency kit should be stocked. 



Before shifting into gear, defrost your windows. You should be able to see mirrors and through all windows before driving on the roads – even if you are driving a short distance.

Also, remove dirt, ice and snow from sensors that work with assistive-driving features, such as automatic braking and forward collision warning.


Increase Traction on the Road

Driving in a lower gear will keep you from accelerating quickly and therefore losing traction with the road and losing control of the vehicle. Be careful driving up and down hills too. If you apply too much gas, your tires can spin too much and lose traction with the road.  


Increase Following Distance

While driving in winter weather, increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This will allow you more time if you need to stop.


Do Not Use Cruise Control

Your cruise control is an asset driving long distances, but DO NOT use it when driving in winter conditions. During the conditions, your vehicle is more likely to hydroplane because it is trying to maintain a constant speed. 


Skidding: What to Do?

If your car happens to skid while driving on snow or ice, do not panic. Remove your foot from the accelerator and avoid slamming on the brakes. Steer your vehicle into the direction of the skid to correct its orientation. That means steer into the same side the rear end of the vehicle is sliding toward. Be careful not to oversteer as this could cause your vehicle to move into more of skid.

The best way to be safe is to stay off the roads during winter weather. If you must drive, follow these winter weather driving tips to keep yourself and others safe. Remember, you can contact State Highway Patrol by calling *HP or *47 in the event of an emergency.


Related Topics: