Start with winterizing your car, truck, van, or SUV. Have a mechanic do an 'under the hood' inspection to confirm the engine, fluids, and belts are in good cold-weather operating condition. Examine and upgrade tires and brakes as needed. Check and replace worn windshield wipers. Be sure signal lights, headlights, and tail lights work properly.
Place a winter travel emergency kit in the trunk. Include things like an ice scraper, snowbrush, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, hat, glove, blanket, water bottle, snacks, etc.
Winter weather is unpredictable. Drivers must be alert and in tune with deteriorating roadways. Consider the following tips:
- Plan your route and check the forecast.
- Clear snow and ice from the windshield, side and rear windows, mirrors, and lights. Remove snow from the vehicle hood and roof as well.
- Insist that everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt.
- Slow down. Beware of slick spots and black ice on bridges, overpasses, and sun-sheltered sections of the pavement. Do not use cruise control during inclement weather.
- Allow extra time and distance to stop.
- Drive defensively. Use turn signals. Turn on the headlights. Be aware of nearby vehicles. Anticipate other drivers' actions and put plenty of space between your car and those around you.
- Avoid distractions, and focus on navigating the roadway. Carry a cell phone, but only use it in case of emergency.