Tips for Safe Wintertime Driving

Don't Let a Snowy Road Turn You Into a Grinch!

Published on Tuesday, November 12, 2019

We have all been there. You did your due diligence. You woke up early, cleaned your vehicle off, properly scraped and defrosted all your windows for a clean field of vision, and you're driving along when you see a person with a foot of snow on their roof with only a small circle cleared on their windshield, leaving you wondering how on Earth they are going to make it safely to their destination.

Snow- and ice-covered roads present their own set of unique problems and hazards for commuters, delivery. persons, and truck drivers. The last thing we need while navigating an icy road is to be blinded by a flurry of snow because the driver in front of you didn't properly clean off their vehicle, or worried about driving in someone's blind spot because they didn't clean their windows.

While we can't control how other drivers prepare for a snowy commute, we can be sure that we are prepared to face the wintry roads. A good snow brush/ice scraper and a pair of gloves can make all the difference! Clearing your car or truck of snow and ice before driving is key! This includes clearing windshields, windows, side-view mirrors, head lights, brake lights, turn signals, and any buildup of snow or ice that may come loose and affect drivers behind you.

Here are other precautionary steps drivers can take to remain safe on the road this winter: 

  • Check your tire pressure! For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, tires will lose one to two pounds of pressure. 
  • Check your battery! Freezing temperatures slow the chemical reaction occurring inside most car batteries, which makes it more difficult for an already weak battery to hold a charge. 
  • Check and replace wiper blades if needed.
  • Be sure to have a proper amount of appropriately rated wiper fluid.
  • Keep your gas tank full to keep gas lines from freezing. 

Additionally, while operating your vehicle avoid using cruise control, remember that stopping distances increase (increase following distance 8 to 10 seconds), steer into the direction of the skid if you do lose control, and don't stop when going uphill! 

Your car has safety features and being aware of your car's winter road capabilities is important! Visit mycardoeswhat.org to find out how your car helps keep you safe!

Truck Drivers

While the tips listed above are also pertinent to truck drivers, the winter months provide a unique set of challenges for those in the logistics and hauling industries. A truck driver may begin a trip in beautiful weather, but quickly find themselves in a snowstorm or come upon icy roads. Due to the increased risk of driving through or being stranded in inclement weather, truck drivers should:

  • Wear proper clothing (loose layers, proper coat, extra gloves, and rain/snow gear).
  • Keep a working flashlight.
  • Keep a supply of blankets, food, and water.
  • Keep a bag of sand or salt on hand.
  • Bring jumper cables and tire chains.
  • Use extra caution when crossing bridges as they ice first.

Also, remember to slow down and give yourself plenty of space. Slower speeds and greater distances give you more time to react and help prevent hydroplaning. If you do get stuck or stranded, stay put! It's easy to get lost or confused in a storm.  

Finally, the most important tip, if conditions are too bad you can't go wrong by staying off the road! 

For more information on motor vehicle safety, visit the Government Partnerships section of our Partners page where you will find helpful information provided by the CDC and NIOSH. Have a safe and happy winter everyone!