get ready for winter weather driving

get ready for winter weather driving
Double-check weather forecasts and traffic reports during winter weather
storms. These guidelines can help you get prepared prior to your travels.
Winter Vehicle Maintenance
Before the weather turns bad, make sure your vehicle is
properly serviced and maintained. Ensure the electrical
systems, brakes, batteries, lights, windshield wipers, antifreeze
and heating and cooling systems are in good shape.
Double-check your vehicle for winter weather travel gear
like extra warm clothing, a blanket, a small shovel, sand or
non-clumping litter, emergency flares, deice materials, tire
chains, and an ice scraper.
Check your tires - they are very important. Keep tires properly
inflated and make sure they have adequate tread. Plan ahead tire dealers are busiest before and during winter storms.
Use the Take Winter By Storm Checklist to prepare a
vehicle emergency kit, including a radio, flashlight, extra
batteries, a first-aid kit, emergency contact information,
water, and non-perishable food. You can find a detailed list at
As the temperature drops, keep your gas tank at least
half full; the extra gas helps reduce condensation that
can plug your fuel line with ice and stall your engine in
cooler weather.
Make sure your vehicle is completely up to date on regular
scheduled maintenance to avoid costly repairs, reduce C02
emissions, and maintain optimum fuel economy.
Carry tire chains and double check they are a proper fit for
your vehicle’s tires.
Emergency flares and bright roadside traffic signal
(cone, triangle)
Safety beacon/flashing light
Additional Items To Include In Your Vehicle*
Portable Water
Non-perishable Food
Flashlight and extra batteries
Emergency Contact Card
Winter clothing for each traveler
Place with vehicle insurance information
Carry coats, boots, hats, gloves/mittens and/or scarves for
each traveler – anything that would keep them warm if they
need to evacuate the vehicle
Blankets for each traveler
Rain gear
Include adjustable wrench, screw driver with adjustable
bits (flat, square, Phillips), hammer, tow rope, duck tape
Deicer for vehicles
Paper, pen and local maps (with pre-determined
travel routes)
Ice scraper/brush
Jumper cables
Small shovel and traction aids (sand, non-clumping
litter, chains)
Whistle to signal for help
Hand warmers
Tool kit
Easy-open snack bars, trail mix, crackers
First aid kit, including personal medications
Four, 16oz bottles per person per day (change
out frequently)
If you must leave your vehicle, be sure to leave a note
telling others your travel plans
Cell phone charger and/or extra battery
Antiseptic towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for
personal sanitation
*For a list to build a more detailed personal preparedness kit for your vehicle, go to
Winter Driving and Travel. Driving in perfect weather can be hard enough. But when severe weather
hits, it’s important to take extra precautions.
If bad weather is predicted, check the forecast before heading
out and adjust your travel plans if you can. If bad weather is
forecast, consider postponing your trip.
Watch out for standing water, which can cause hydroplaning,
and remember bridges and overpasses freeze first, so approach
them cautiously and avoid sudden changes in direction.
Don’t use high beams. Visibility is usually compromised in
winter weather conditions. Day or night, headlights should be
on and set to low beam.
Turn on wipers. Obvious, right? But make sure your wipers are
replaced every six to twelve months for optimal performance.
Do not drive through deep standing water or around road
closure signs - the water may be deeper than you think. Driving
through standing water is the leading cause of flood-related
death. Flooding can also conceal dangerous road damage
or downed electrical lines. Obey closure signs until the water
has receded and the road has safely reopened. Turn around.
Don’t drown!
If a flash flood causes water to rise around your car, abandon
the vehicle and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. Be especially
vigilant when traveling at night!
When there’s snow on the ground, do not travel unless you
have to. Staying home will keep you and others safe. If you
must travel, check for local road closures and try to map the
safest and least accident prone route.
When traveling, be aware of ice hazards, especially on shaded
roadways, bridges or in high elevation areas prone to freezing.
If you have to travel, stay on the main roads and travel prepared
with extra warm clothes, a blanket, a small shovel, sand or nonclumping litter, emergency flares, deice materials, tire chains,
and an ice scraper.
Before you head out, maximize visibility by making sure your
windows and mirrors are defrosted - keep the AC on to keep
them from fogging up while you’re driving.
During high winds, look out. Keep an eye out for flying debris
and use extra caution near trailers, vans, or vehicles carrying
lightweight cargo. Some vehicles shouldn’t be driven. It’s best
not to drive a trailer, van, or other “high-profile” vehicle in
high winds.
While driving in inclement weather, slow down and allow greater
following distance. It takes longer to stop on wet or icy roads,
so instead of staying the usual 3-4 seconds behind the car
ahead, give it 8-10. Large trucks take longer to stop.
Four and all-wheel drive vehicles will not stop or steer better in
icy conditions than two-wheel drive vehicles.
When driving in a multiple lane road during snow and ice
conditions, stay in the lane that is most clear and avoid
unnecessary lane changes. Be sure to use directional signals
when changing lanes to indicate your intentions.
Steering and braking are more difficult on snowy or icy roads.
Steer with smooth, careful movements. Avoid any abrupt
braking that could cause you to lose control. With anti-lock
brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal. If you have
to take evasive action to avoid hitting something else, it’s best if
possible to steer your way around the obstacle than to brake.
If you get stuck in snow, straighten your wheels and accelerate
slowly to avoid spinning the tires. If it’s safe to get out of the
car, use flares to alert other cars to your presence and use
sand under the drive wheels or use your shovel to dig some of
the snow out. If the wheels continue to spin and you can’t get
un-stuck, do not get out of the vehicle. Turn on your emergency
flashers and phone for help.
While traveling in severe winter weather and you come across a
road maintenance vehicle, slow down and move out of the way
to give them plenty of room to help clear the roadway. If behind
a road maintenance vehicle, stay behind it until it is safe to
pass. They have a limited field of vision while at work.
Slow down and be extra cautious near chain-up and removal
areas. There are often people out of their vehicles.
If you must abandon your car during a snowstorm, pull as far
off the road as safely possible to avoid blocking other vehicles
and snow removal equipment.
If you must get out of your vehicle alongside the road during
inclement weather, use reflectors such as reflective tape or
flashing lights to be better seen by passing vehicles.
During periods of ice or snow, Transit service may be rerouted,
cancelled, or delayed. Know your bus snow route but expect
delays. Find winter weather Transit schedule links and a Public
Transportation checklist through
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