Car accidents are the #1 cause of death during winter storms.

Being prepared and knowing how to maneuver your car during the winter season will help you arrive safely.

When Driving on Snowy and Icy Roads

» Keep up-to-date on winter storm advisories in your area as well as road closings or other accidents. Knowing this will help you plan a safer driving route.

» Bridges and overpasses freeze first. Be prepared for potential black ice patches. Reduce your speed before reaching them and drive at a steady speed as you cross them.

» Don’t get in a hurry. Turn slowl, brake gently with no quick or sudden movements. Anticipate potential stops and lane changes.

» Be aware  of trucks near your vehicle. They can impair your driving ability by spraying snow and rain onto cars in the next lanes. It also takes a larger truck more time and distance to stop.

» Stay visible. Always keep your lights on when driving in rain, sleet, show or fog.

Always keep a basic winter survival kit in your car with things such as flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves first-aid kit, ice scraper or brush, road flares, sand or kitty litter, and jumper cables.

If you become stranded:

» Pull to the right side of the road, as far from traffic as possible.
» Stay in the car with your seat belt fastened unless you know exactly where you are or how far it is to help.
» Flip on your hazard lights. This makes it easier for other traffic to see you. If you have flares, use one at each end of the car for greater visibility.
» Run the engine for about 10 minutes at a time to get warmth. Keep an eye on fuel levels and be sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow or other obstructions so carbon monoxide fumes don’t get inside your vehicle.
» Cracking a window provides fresh air and can keep the car from sealing shut in heavy snow and ice.

If you get stuck in snow:

Driving Snow and Ice» Straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly.
» Avoid spinning the tires, this only digs your vehicle deeper in the snow.
» Rock the vehicle back and forth; the car’s weight and the rocking action can help get the vehicle unstuck.
» Sprinkling sand or kitty litter around the tires can help tires gain traction and get your vehicle moving again.

Driving on Snowy and Icy Roads

» An Illustrated Guide to Driving Safely in the Snow

» What to Carry in Your Car (PDF) from Washington State Dept. of Transportation


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photo credit: OregonDOT via photopin cc