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How to Prepare for Winter Driving

PennDot video - Winter Operations

Winter Driving is a Challenge

Driving in winter weather is a challenge for most drivers. With slippery roads and reduced visibility accidents are more likely to happen. To be safe on the road you should learn the following simple winter driving tips.

Check Your Vehicle

Before getting out on the roads you must make sure your vehicle is in good technical condition. Check tires and brakes. Your heating system and windshield wipers must work. Make sure that headlights, signal lamps and windscreen are clean.

Fill up the fuel tank before you leave on a trip. If you get stuck in snow or traffic you may run out of gas sooner than you expect.

Get an Emergency Kit

In areas that receive heavy snowfall, you should always carry an emergency kit. It should include things like non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger, ice scraper, booster cables, and a small snow shovel.

Consider adding personal items such as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, or even children’s games.

Prepare Your Trip

Check weather forecasts and traffic alerts. Avoid driving in blizzards, heavy snowfall, or when the roads are covered with black ice.

Clear snow or ice from all windows and lights so you can see and be seen.

In a cold vehicle moisture may condense on the inside of the windows. Warm up your vehicle before driving off.

Adjust Your Driving

When driving on snow or ice, you must drive slower than usual. The traction of your tires on the road will be greatly reduced, seriously affecting your steering and braking ability. When you start driving, gently test your brakes to get a feel for the road.

Keep a safe following distance to any vehicle ahead. Your stopping distance on a slippery road can be more than doubled compared to a dry road. Start slowing down well ahead of a turn or stop. Do not brake hard or make sharp turns.

Speeding or making careless lane changes are especially dangerous on winter roads.


In areas where you can expect only light snowfall, your all-season radial tires may be sufficient. In areas with heavy snowfall you must use snow tires or chains. Check the rules in your state to known when and if the use of tire chains is legal.


For drivers in Pennsylvania, PennDot has announced a new video to educate the public on PennDOT operations and safe winter driving. The “Winter Operations” video is available at

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