Winter Driving Tips

Equip Your Vehicle

Equip your vehicle with an emergency survival kit. some of the recommended items are:

  1. Ice scrapper with a snow brush.
  2. Jumper cables.
  3. Basic tool kit.
  4. A couple of cans of tire inflation or patch foam.
  5. Shovel.
  6. Traction mats or old rugs, sand, or kitty litter.
  7. Blankets, extra clothing and gloves.
  8. Candles and flashlight with extra batteries.
  9. Waterproof matches and an empty coffee can to melt snow for drinking water.
  10. Take along some snacks.
  11. Basic first aid kit.
  12. A cellular telephone or a citizens band radio with a backup power source other than the car's battery.

Slow Down

The safest way to slow down or stop on ice and snow is to begin slowing down well before its your stopping point to avoid skidding. Ease off the accelerator and gradually apply the brakes firmly until just before they lock. Ease off the brake pedal until you feel the wheels rolling easily and apply the brakes again.

Do not pump the brakes if your vehicle is equipped with ABS, or anti-lock braking system, as this action reduces the effectiveness of the brakes and may cause them to lock up, resulting in steering loss. With ABS, apply the brakes fully and maintaining the pressure. This activates the anti-lock braking system. You will feel the brake pedal pulse against your foot. The system will activate the brakes faster and more safely than you can, thus slowing the vehicle and maintaining steering control.

If you begin to skid, take your foot off the brakes and steer your vehicle in the direction you want to go until the tires regain traction.

If You Become Stranded

If you become stranded in a winter storm:

  1. Turn on your vehicle hazard lights.
  2. Lock the doors and remain in your vehicle until help arrives. Do not get out to talk to "Good Samaritan" as they may be criminals.
  3. To stay warm, run the engine, but run the engine only for short periods to save gas. Check to make sure that snow, dirt, or ice is not clogging the exhaust system.
  4. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by keeping a window slightly open while the engine is running.

If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, don't think it will get you through all conditions. These vehicles have good traction in snow, but won't make a difference if you're stuck in deep snow drifts. And they don't stop any quicker than other vehicles on slick pavements.

Watch for slick spots especially under bridges, on overpasses, and in shaded areas. Drive slower and increase your following distance. Adjust your speed for the conditions and match the flow of traffic, if possible.

If you own one, carry a cellular phone with you for emergencies. Many Illinois road maps have the phone numbers for State Police district headquarters. Since there is no statewide cellular 9-1-1 yet, state troopers may be your best help.

Keep the gas tank full. Carry some sand or kitty litter and a shovel to help you get out of deep snow. If you get hopelessly stuck, make sure your tailpipes are clear of snow. Keep your automobile window cracked to let in fresh air, and turn the engine off from time to time to save gas. Put something bright, like a bandanna on top of your antenna so you can be seen.

Don't accept a ride from strangers. Criminals are predators who will take advantage of your helplessness. Don't gamble. Ask your "Good Samaritan" to report your location at the nearest service station or police headquarters.

Plan ahead, be careful, drive safely. Those six words should help keep you safe this winter.