Ice & Snow? Take it slow! Winter Driving Safety
Driving in normal conditions can be dangerous and adding severe winter weather makes driving even more frightening and risky. By taking safety steps to prepare for your trip, protect yourself and prevent crashes, you can make your trip safer and be better prepared for an emergency.
Prepare for your trip
Pack a winter weather survival kit. Be prepared for emergency situations on the road by having a “survival kit” in the vehicle including items such as a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, wooden stick, matches in a waterproof container, and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy. For those facing colder winters, also include an ice scraper and snow brush. Once you have created your car survival kit, always keep it stocked and easily accessible.
Leave early. For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph faster is only going to save you a few minutes while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50%. Instead, allow extra driving time so you don’t have to resort to speeding or engage in reckless driving to make up time or leaving late or for unanticipated traffic delays.
Maintain your car. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up. Check that your tires are properly inflated and make sure the tire tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. Before moving your car, clean snow, ice or dirt from the windows, the forward sensors, headlights, tail lights and backup camera.
Stay calm in a skid. If you find yourself skidding, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. Carefully steer in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Continue to stay off the pedals—both gas and brake—until you are able to regain control of your vehicle.
Go slow and be visible. When you are driving, drive slowly and keep a greater distance between cars than you normally would. By looking farther ahead in traffic, you will be able to see actions by cars and trucks ahead of you, which will alert you quicker to problems and giving you more time to respond. If you do need to respond, remember to use brakes carefully. Because it takes more time and distance to break in adverse winter conditions, brake early and make sure cars and pedestrians can see you by always using your headlights.
Drive with icy conditions in mind. Don’t use cruise control in wet, icy or snow conditions! A short touch of the brakes to deactivate cruise control can cause you to lose control. Instead, maintain control of acceleration and deceleration of your car.