Safe Winter Driving

Winter driving can be hazardous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice. Additional preparations can make any trip safer and help motorists deal with emergencies. Here is some safety information to prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms.

The three Ps of safe winter driving are PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes on the road.


Maintain your car: Check battery, tire treads, and windshield wipers; keep your
windows clear; put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir; and check your antifreeze.
Have on hand: flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even
floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares), and
blankets. For long trips, add food and water, medication, and cell phone.
Stopped or stalled? Stay in your car, don’t overexert, put bright markers on the antenna or windows, shine the dome light, and, if you run your car, clear the exhaust pipe of snow and run it just enough to stay warm.
Plan your route: Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if
necessary), be familiar with the maps/ directions, and let others know your route
and arrival time.

Practice cold-weather driving!

  • During daylight, rehearse maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in an empty lot.
  • Steer into a skid.
  • Know what your brakes will do: stomp on antilock brakes, pump non-antilock brakes.
  • Remember that stopping distances are longer on water-covered ice and ice.

Protect Yourself

Buckle up and use child safety seats properly.
Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag.
Children 12 and under are much safer in the backseat.
Don’t idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

Prevent Crashes

Drugs and alcohol never mix with driving.
Slow down and increase distances between cars on slick roads.
Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking in the road.
Avoid fatigue — get plenty of rest before a long trip, stop at least every three hours, and rotate drivers if possible.
If you are planning to drink, designate a sober driver.

U.S. Department of Labor

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