• January 8, 2024
  • Katlin Owens

Quick tips for safe winter driving

Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

Unpredictable weather can make winter driving treacherous. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe on the road.

Before traveling to areas that may have hazardous conditions, make sure your vehicle is ready:
• Ensure the heater and defroster are working properly.
• Test all lights. Carry spare light bulbs.
• Use antifreeze that’s good to -25°F; check and fill washer and other fluids and make sure hoses aren’t loose or brittle.
• Keep wipers clean and in good condition; fill the windshield washer tank.
• Make certain your battery is fully charged (also check battery age and make sure cables are not loose or corroded).
• Make sure your tires are in good condition and properly inflated for best traction, including your spare.
• Carry chains or use traction tires in winter.
• Keep an automotive safety kit in your vehicle.

If you are driving in areas that have ice or snow on the road, adjust your driving to fit conditions and remember these winter driving tips:
• Turn off your cruise control.
• If you lose traction and your vehicle feels like it’s floating, gradually slow down. Don’t slam on the brakes.
• Use caution when driving on bridges or concrete highways. These surfaces are the first to freeze and become slippery when the temperature drops.
• Slow down in advance of shaded areas, especially on curves. Shaded areas are cooler and may have ice that is difficult to see.
• Don’t pass snowplows or sanders, and don’t follow them too closely; they will pull over!
• Be prepared for slow traffic after a storm passes. It may take several hours to clear long lines of trucks waiting to cross a pass after a storm moves through the area. Also, it may take time to remove cars abandoned on the side of the road.

If you’re traveling with an infant or baby, pack extra food, warm clothes and blankets, toys and games, and extra diapers just in case. Remember to use your child safety seat properly.

Before leaving, tell a friend where you are going, the planned route, and when anticipate arriving. Keep them updated on any major route or arrival changes.

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