Winter Driving Safety Tips

February 14, 2024 | Category: Article

While there are always rumors of big snow, many of which are fueled by skiers and those who wish for a true winter wonderland, the colder weather does necessitate a fortitude to be prepared with more vigilance than at warmer times.

Dealing with snow, ice, and colder temperatures during travel is not to be taken lightly. So when it comes to traveling during the colder months, here are some tips for being prepared and keeping safe.

Know the weather.

During the non-winter months it is often the case that we look at the weather to know if it will rain tomorrow or throughout the week. For the winter though, freezing temperatures and the type of precipitation can impact travel a lot more than the rain does in warmer months.

Being prepared for how much time it will take to clean off your vehicle if you’re headed out the next day or even later today will give you a head start on what to expect.


Clean the snow off your car before you get going. You can do this while your car is warming up and you’re defrosting your windshield. Removing the snow from your car is no longer optional in Pennsylvania.

The law signed in 2022 requires that drivers clear their vehicles of snow and ice before hitting the roads. Not doing so makes it easier for law enforcement to spot you, pull you over, and ticket you. For more information look up 2022 Act 90.

Once your vehicle is road ready, keep your headlights on, not all automatic headlights will turn on during a daytime snowfall, reduce your speed and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Snow, like ice, will increase your stopping distance.

Also, be sure to tune in to local radio or be attuned to the local and state municipal channels on social networks or the internet to check for road conditions and other travel advisories.

Black Ice, Ice, and Slush.

Unlike the potential beauty of snow falling from the sky, especially if you are watching it from the comfort of your own home, ice in all of its winter weather incarnations is not nearly as enjoyable as it is dangerous.

Black Ice is not black, but gets its name because it is a glaze of ice that blends in with the blacktop, and is visually invisible. The US Forest Service has tips about Black Ice that suggest it most commonly forms at night or in the early morning, on places of the road that rarely see direct sunlight, and often forms on bridges and overpasses, which is why you see those signs on many bridges “BRIDGE ICES BEFORE ROAD.”

Ice itself is also dangerous for driving conditions, but you can see it. This, like snow, and slush, can also increase your stopping difference, as well as your grip, which will impact steering and acceleration, so be very careful in these road conditions.

Slush is also not to be taken too lightly. While it often occurs at higher temperatures, meaning above freezing, that doesn’t mean that under the slush is pavement, it could be on top of ice. So be as vigilant as the ice and snow melts as you would be if it were colder.

Winter Driving Safety Kit

All of the above driving safety tips are to keep you on the road and safe. Winter conditions can cause your car to take 10 times longer to stop, this means that accidents with other cars or just sliding off the road are more than likely to happen during these winter road conditions.

If you are ever in an accident, having a winter safety kit in your car is imperative, and it’s something you should definitely have taken care of before you set up.

Kits should include but are not limited to, blankets, sand or kitty litter, flashlight, gloves, portable shovel, a standard first aid kit, bottled water, and some assorted snacks such as granola bars or nuts. These kits are to keep you alive in the even you end up in an accident or slide off the road, or are just stranded on the road.


Hypothermia is a very real issue if you are stranded in your car during the winter. The CDC has great information about Hypothermia, but you do need to know a few things.

Hypothermia is caused by “prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures.” But it can also happen at cool temperatures above 40 degrees F. Being wet, from rain or perspiration can increase your chances of hypothermia.

The winter driving safety kit and first aid kit in your car should help with keeping you warm, but if you feel like you require additional care, contact emergency responders.

Common Sense

If you are ever stuck in adverse weather conditions, remember that those weather conditions also impact emergency responders in getting to you. If any type of travel advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service or local municipalities, stay home.

Also, don’t try to “beat the storm.” If your travel can wait, be safe and wait out the weather.

Emergency responders are wonderful people who can save your life, but they are just as happy to see you be safe all on your own.

Written By: Jason Stershic, Blogger for and Podcaster host of The Palmer Files