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Safe Winter Travel in Motor Vehicles

Winter driving can be extremely hazardous. Many motorists rushing to holiday destinations are distracted and frustrated with traffic congestion. Inclement weather can make traveling by car especially challenging and put drivers at risk for motor vehicle accidents .

Safe winter travel requires good preparation. Below are several steps drivers can take to limit their risk for car accidents, particularly during the winter months.

  • Have a maintenance check. Especially before going on a long trip, bring your car in for a tune-up. Items to have checked include: oil and fluid levels, tire pressure and treads, wipers and hoses and belts.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Your kit should include ice scrapers, energy bars, drinking water, blankets, sand, small shovel, cell phone charger, flashlights, batteries, jumper cables, warning flares and tire chains.
  • Know your route and weather. Have a map or navigation system available, and consider postponing your trip if severe weather is predicted.
  • Be cautious when driving at night. Driving at night puts you a greater risk for encountering drunk drivers as well as drivers experiencing fatigue . If you must drive at night, try to stop every two hours or every 100 miles to ensure you are alert and refreshed. Do not hesitate to have someone else drive if you feel drowsy.

If your vehicle gets stuck or stalled in bad weather conditions keep in mind the following tips:

  • Do not leave your vehicle. Your car acts as a temporary shelter and makes it easier for emergency personnel to locate you.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to your car. You can attach a bright piece of fabric to the antenna or at the top of a rolled up window. This will signal distress and help rescuers spot you. During the evening leave the dome light on.
  • Check to make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged. If the engine is running an exhaust pipe blocked with mud or snow can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the car.
  • Use anything available to insulate yourself from the cold. Examples of items that can be used in emergencies include floor mats and paper maps.

Being prepared for hazardous road conditions will give you the confidence you need to travel safely during the winter months.