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Safe Winter Driving Practices

Know before you go.

Other than wearing your seat belt, driving sober, distraction-free and following all posted speed limits, winter driving requires additional behaviors and precautions. 

Winter Driving Best Practices

  • "Know before you go." Check road conditions before you travel. Check the Travel Information Map or call 511. Let someone know when you depart, your route and expected arrival time. Do not leave without a full fuel tank.
  • Never use cruise control on wet or icey roadways.
  • Get the feel of the roadway. Try your brakes while driving slowly and adjust your speed to how much traction you have. Slow down. Snow tires or tire chains are helpful, but you should still double your distance for following other vehicles. Studded snow tires may be used from October 15 to April 15.
  • Passing trucks may create snow fog. This greatly reduces your visibility. Look ahead for curves in the road, behind for vehicles following and slow dow. Remember that on bridges and shaded spots, frost and ice form quicker and are retained longer than on the rest of the roadway.
  • Stopping on slippery surfaces requires longer visibility, following and stopping distances. According to AAA-The Auto Club Group, you should be familiar with whether or not your vehicle has anitlock brakes.
    • Braking without antilock brakes: You should pump the brakes when driving vehicles equipped with drum-type brakes on all four wheels. Vehicles equipped with disc brakes require a slow, intermittent braking action - fully on and then fully off - long enough to let the disc brakes release so that all wheels are rolling again. If you slam on your brakes, your wheels will lock and your tires will skid.
    • Braking with antilock brakes (ABS): Do not remove your foot from the brake. When you put on the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulse against your foot. This is normal. Do not pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake.
  • If your vehicle becomes stuck in a snowstorm, stay with the vehicle! Most deaths occur when people leave their vehicles and get lost. Open your windows slightly and run the vehicle and heater for only short periods of time to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay active and do not panic.