A Guide to Winter Driving Safety

Driving in the winter can be challenging, intimidating, and potentially dangerous. But as with many other challenges in life, a bit of preparation can make it easier. When your vehicle is well-equipped for winter, and you know some strategies for driving safely in the winter, you're much less likely to find yourself in a precarious situation.

Put on Winter Tires

If you live somewhere that gets wintry weather every year, one of the easiest things you can do to make winter driving easier is to put on snow tires. Putting on snow tires is a common ritual in cold climates, and doing so can give you better traction when the roads are slippery. You can put them on yourself or take your vehicle to an auto shop and have them do it. Just remember to swap them out for regular tires once warmer weather arrives.

Make Other Winter Preparations for Your Vehicle

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your vehicle for winter is something that you should be doing all year anyway: checking and maintaining your vehicle. Check the tread and air pressure of your tires, make sure the battery is in good condition, and check your fluid levels. The last thing you need is to run out of washer fluid when you're driving in bad weather.

Drive Carefully

Never let your guard down when driving in winter. Even if there is no snow or ice visible on the roadway, there could still be black ice. You can't usually see black ice on the road, but it causes plenty of deadly accidents. If it's cold out, assume that there might be black ice and slow down. You should also avoid braking suddenly, which could make your vehicle skid if the road is slippery. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, so you can drive slowly and carefully.

Learn Strategies for Safe Winter Driving

If you're uncomfortable driving in the winter, the best approach is to avoid driving as much as possible, at least until you get more familiar with how to drive in this weather. If you don't know how to drive in wintry conditions, it's a good idea to find a big, empty parking lot where you can practice. Once you're ready to hit the road, remember that if you do find yourself sliding out of control, the best approach is to take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you're sliding. If you can, plan your route to avoid hills and sharp curves, which can be more challenging to navigate in ice and snow.

Pack a Winter Safety Kit

When you head out in the winter, you should always bring along supplies that you might need. This starts with a snow brush, an ice scraper, and a collapsible shovel. Make sure that your phone is fully charged before you leave the house. You should also pack an emergency kit that contains jumper cables, equipment for changing a tire, and the number for the nearest auto repair shop. And don't forget to take care of the people in the car: If you should find yourself stranded, you'll be glad that you packed things like blankets, snacks, bottles of water, and perhaps even a deck of cards or travel-sized board game to help you pass the time while you wait for help to arrive.