Winter Driving Safety
Before you drive
Check the weather forecast before you leave
Weather can change quickly, so it’s essential to stay informed of weather conditions. Follow local weather and traffic reports on television, radio and social media before starting your journey so you can best respond to the conditions on the road. Be especially careful when driving early in the morning and late in the evening when temperatures drop and roads are more likely to freeze over.
Allow extra time to get to your destination
When driving in snowy and icy conditions, leave yourself plenty of time and be prepared to take an alternate route. We recommend mapping them out in advance so you’ll be ready when you need them. Your plans should include ways to avoid the interstate, where winter-related pileups often occur. Just remember, secondary roads may not be as clear as primary roads during and immediately after a snowstorm. Let family and friends know of your travel plans and the route you plan to take.
Bring along a winter car survival kit
Pack up a few essential items and store them in your car during the winter for roadside emergencies.
A winter car emergency kit should typically include:
- Battery booster cables
- An ice scraper
- A portable shovel
- Sand or kitty litter
- A blanket
Check to make sure you have at least a half-tank of gas in your car at all times. Keep your cellphone fully charged and with you. For long trips, remember to bring along food, water and medication.
Shovel out your car
Before getting behind the wheel, clear your entire car of snow and ice to prevent a crash. Start at the top of the car and work your way down, clearing snow from the roof, hood, trunk, wheels and tailpipe. Don’t forget to brush off your mirrors, front and back lights and license plates. Driving with snow on the car is dangerous for you and everyone else on the road, and it’s illegal in many states.
If you get stuck or stranded
If your car’s stuck in the snow, there are a few techniques you can use to get it free in a flash. Begin by shoveling snow and ice a few feet in front of and behind your wheels. Spread sand or kitty litter in the area to create traction. Straighten your front wheels and try to rock your car free by switching between forward and reverse. If you’re unable to get unstuck, call Roadside Assistance at 866-286-9968 or a towing company to pull your car out of the snow.
If you find yourself trapped in your car – whether close to others or in an isolated area – the first thing to do is call 911, if possible. When speaking to authorities, report your location and situation. Don’t hang up until you know with whom you’ve spoken and what will happen next. Remain calm and don't leave your vehicle. Staying in your car will provide shelter and warmth. Run the engine for warmth, but no more than ten minutes per hour. Make sure to leave a window slightly open for ventilation, and don't let the exhaust pipe get clogged. A blocked exhaust can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to seep into the vehicle.