Preparing for winter driving

Winter has hit the passes in full force right before college students are heading home for winter breaks and families are preparing for holiday road trips.

Winter has hit the passes in full force right before college students are heading home for winter breaks and families are preparing for holiday road trips. If you’re planning to travel over the passes make sure you’re prepared for winter driving conditions.

If you do find yourself driving on snow or ice, AAA recommends following these simple tips to help you be a safe and efficient driver:

  • Slow down
  • Increase you’re following distance
  • Stay alert for slick and icy roads – bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze
  • If you find yourself in a skid, don’t panic, avoid slamming on the brakes and always look and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Know your brakes; if your vehicle has antilock brakes – don’t pump your brakes, vehicles without antilock brakes – apply firm steady pressure without locking your brakes
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice

If you’re taking a road trip during the winter months, it’s a good idea to have a basic winter driving kit in your vehicle. AAA recommends making sure you pack these 10 essential items in your winter driving kit in case you encounter snowy or icy road conditions:

  • Cell phone and charger for making emergency calls
  • Warning devices (flares, triangles or other visual alert)
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with new batteries
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Blankets and warm clothing including hat and gloves
  • Jumper cables
  • Abrasive material (sand or cat litter) or traction mats and a small shovel
  • Ice/snow scraper for clearing car and windows
  • Tire chains

Remember to check weather forecasts, traffic reports and road conditions so you’re prepared for winter driving conditions and allow for extra time to get your destination. It’s best to “know before you go” even if you’re just heading off to work, driving home from college or driving across the mountain passes.

Driving in ice and snow conditions can be very challenging. If you’re uncomfortable or nervous driving in winter conditions, it’s best to stay off the roads unless it’s absolutely necessary to drive and wait for conditions to improve to take your trip.

Safe winter driving requires planning and preparation, AAA’s free How To Go On Ice and Snow brochure can be downloaded It includes these and many more tips for winter driving.  For additional information and tips, watch AAA’s safe winter driving videos.


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