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

What is winter weather?

Winter weather includes precipitation of snow, sleet, freezing rain or a mix of the three. Know the types of alerts issued and what they mean.

Winter Weather Advisory - Be Aware.
Issued when snow, ice, sleet, or combination of these elements is expected, but conditions are not hazardous enough to meet warning criteria. Be prepared for winter driving conditions and travel hazards. 

Winter Storm Watch - Be Prepared.
Issued when conditions are favorable for heavy snow, sleet, ice storm, blowing snow or combination of these elements.

Winter Storm Warning - Take Action!
Issued for significant winter event that includes snow, ice, sleet, blowing snow or a combination of these hazards. Travel will be difficult or impossible in some situations.

Winter weather driving

Follow these safety tips if you must drive during winter weather: 

  • Use windshield wipers and turn on the low beam headlights.
  • Check your tire pressure and battery power because the colder temperatures cause the pressure and power to drop.
  • Defrost windows.
  • Reduce speed and increase following distance to allow more time to stop.
  • If you start to slide, take your foot off the gas and do not slam on the brakes. Steer in the direction of the skid.
  • Watch for shady spots, bridges and overpasses because they will be the first to freeze as the temperatures drop.
  • When starting or stopping on snowy or icy roads, increase or decrease your speed slowly. This will help tires keep traction with the road. 
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times to prevent moisture from freezing the lines.
  • Carry a stocked emergency kit. 

If there is an accident

  • Contact State Highway Patrol at *HP (*47).
  • If your vehicle is running, scrape away any snow or debris from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide build up inside the car.
  • Stay in the car. Do not leave to search for assistance. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Newspapers, maps and even the car mats can be used for added insulation, if stranded for a long period of time.
  • Use a brightly colored cloth to attract attention of passing motorists who can help report your situation to law enforcement.

Getting Traction: Tips for Traveling in Winter Weather