Winter Driving Safety Tips

Winter driving season has arrived. Many crashes occur when motorists do not anticipate the road surface conditions. Many people get into trouble by assuming the roads will not be slippery unless the temperature is freezing or below. Ice can form on road surfaces any time the air temperature drops to 40o degrees or less and especially in windy conditions. Bridges and underpasses can be especially hazardous, as the ability of moisture to dissipate from the roadway is different, along with varying surface angles. Low or shaded areas and areas surrounded by landscaping can also contribute too less than ideal road condition issues.


Intersections are also areas that although appear to be clear or only slightly wet are often ice - covered and slippery. This is caused by moisture emitting from the exhaust of cars waiting at the intersection, which then quickly freezes on the pavement. It is also recommended that motorists allow no less than a car-length in front of their vehicle when stopped behind other vehicles at intersections. They should also watch their rear-view mirrors for cars approaching too fast from behind. Often this extra margin of safety will allow drivers to pull forward in the event that an approaching vehicle begins to slide.

Driving Tips

If you do find yourself beginning to slide on snow or ice, Don’t Panic.
  • If you must use the brakes, in anti-lock braking system (ABS) equipped vehicles, use a firm, steady pressure without pumping
  • If your car is not equipped with ABS, gently pump the brake pedal without locking up the brakes
  • If your vehicle begins to skid, (do not brake) and steer the vehicle in the direction you wish to go
  • Take your foot off the gas and do not hit the brakes
  • This technique is used in both front - and rear-wheel drive vehicles


Four-wheel-drive enthusiasts are reminded that although a four-wheel drive vehicle provides some additional traction in non-ideal weather conditions, drivers of these vehicles should take the same precautions as if they were driving in a non-four-wheel vehicle.

Basic Safety Tips

Other basic safety tips for winter driving include:
  • Allow extra space between you and other vehicles
  • Allow extra time to arrive at your destination
  • Always wear your safety belt and ensure others in your vehicle are properly restrained
  • Cell phones are a great safety insurance against breakdowns and getting stranded
  • During inclement weather, make sure to let others know your route of travel, and expected arrival time
  • Never start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle your engine with the windows closed. Carbon monoxide, which is present in exhaust fumes, is almost impossible to detect and can be fatal
  • Slow down and be alert for other vehicles around you
  • Stay alert and on longer trips ensure you take needed breaks
  • Watch for road signs, landmarks and construction zones

Vehicle Maintenance

Preventive vehicle maintenance skills are just as important as good driving skills. Motorists need to make sure their vehicle is in good mechanical condition as weather conditions can cause unwanted vehicle issues.
  • Install new wiper blades and fill the washer reservoir
  • Keep an extra bottle of washer solvent in the vehicle
  • Make sure antifreeze is at the proper level
  • Make sure your battery terminals are clean and if the battery is more than three year’s old, have it tested by a qualified technician

Tire Treads

Check your tire treads. Don’t assume your tires will make it another winter. Here’s a good tip, take a penny and stick it into the tread (head first), if you can see Lincoln’s head, it’s time to invest in new tires. You should also check your tires air pressure monthly using an accurate pressure gauge. The correct PSI for your tires is located on your vehicle’s tire information label, usually found on the technical information sheet located on the inside of your driver’s side door. You must open the door to view this information or look in your owner’s manual. If neither are available, have your tires checked by a reputable technician.

Frozen Car Locks

Frozen car locks can also be a real safety issue. To assist with unlocking a frozen car lock, carefully heat the key with a match or lighter or squirt de-icer spray on it, which can be purchased from most gas stations.