Winter Driving

While winter is a beautiful time of year filled full of celebrations and joyous occasions, but for those of us that live in areas affected by the hazards that winter brings, it can also be a challenge.  The DALKO family would like to help you stay safe and minimize the potential hazards posed by cold weather, winter storms and icy roads by sharing these tips we gather from Just Drive PA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.  Both sites are a wonderful source for not only winter driving tips, but other driving related topics.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that your vehicle is ready for ice and snow.  Start the season off right by making sure your vehicle is in optimal condition.   Below are some tips for getting your vehicle ready for winter.

  • Check that your fluid levels are full.
  • Check your cooling system:  coolant levels, recommended coolant mixture, if needs to be replaced, and if there are any leaks in the cooling system.
  • Check your battery – when the temperature drops so does battery power
  • Make sure your wipers work and replace worn blades. You may want to consider installing winter wiper blades
  • Ensure that your heater and defroster are working properly
  • Check that your vehicle’s radio is working properly so you can receive weather and traffic reports
  • Make sure all lights are working
  • Check to be sure that tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth
  • If you live in an area prone to heavy snow, you may want to use dedicated snow tires on your vehicle or carry a set of tire chains. At a minimum, your all-weather tires should be mud and snow rated.
  • In the case of a problem, contact a mechanic immediately.

Winter Emergency Kit

During the winter season it is recommended that you carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving related tasks, as well as items you may need in an emergency.   The following items should be considered for your kit:

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices such as flares and emergency markers
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Snow shovel
  • Matches and candles
  • First aid supplies
  • Extra warm clothing and gloves
  • Blanket
  • Ice scraper
  • Sand, kitty litter or another abrasive material in case your vehicle gets stuck in snow
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Anything else you may need to accommodate family traveling with you (special medication, baby supplies, pet food, etc.)

Winter Driving Tips

Remember, if winter weather is forecast, eliminate all unnecessary travel.  If you must travel, the following tips for safe driving this winter season are suggested.

  • Carry a winter emergency travel kit.
  • Listen to weather and travel advisories, and if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Slow down and increase following distance.
  • Avoid sudden stops and starts.
  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice.”
  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps where ice can often form without warning.
  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.
  • State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.
  • Use your low beams in bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.
  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights as often as needed.
  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. State law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.
  • Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes.
  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).
  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. In case you run into an emergency and need help, someone will know where to look for you.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go.  This steering maneuver may require additional counter-steering before you can regain full control of the vehicle.  Continue to stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to regain control of your vehicle.
  • Braking:  Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and know how to use them properly.  If you have antilock brakes, apply firm continuous pressure.  If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
  • Do not text or engage in any other activities that may distract you while driving.
  • Do not drink and drive and always wear your seat belt.

What To Do In a Winter Emergency

If you become stranded in winter weather, follow these safety tips:

  • It is better to stay in your vehicle until help arrives
  • Do not overexert yourself
  • Put bright markers on the antenna or window and keep the interior dome light turned on.
  • Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.


Just Drive PA: