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Winter driving is dangerous, even for the most experienced drivers. Holiday shopping and commutes to family parties can easily lead to disastrous consequences behind the wheel if you’re not careful. However, there are plenty of ways to stay safe when winter snow falls. Here are six simple tips for staying safe in the snow.

1. Remove all of the snow and ice from your car

A car salesman brushes snow off of a car.
A car salesman brushes snow off of a car. | Getty Images

Driving with snow on your car is illegal in some states, so it’s a good idea to clean all of it off the car before driving. One easy trick is to start the car to let it defrost while you clear off the snow with a brush. Remember to clear the headlights, taillights, and license plate area. Kelley Blue Book also advises making sure that the inside of the window glass is clean in all directions as well.

2. Slow down

Although you may be in a hurry to get to your destination, it’s important to slow down when it’s snowing. Many drivers try to rush or even drive the speed limit, but during heavy snowfall, that speed could be too fast. When it comes time to stop, lightly press the car’s brakes and test the traction. You will then be able to gauge the distance to the stop and slow the car safely.

3. Keep a full tank of gas

​​Gas cap on fuel door of SUV, highlighting how tightening it can turn off check engine light in car
Gas cap | Mark Putzer, MotorBiscuit

Since traffic can easily build up when it’s snowing, keep a full gas tank so that you don’t have to worry about the car riding empty if you’re sitting on the freeway for a long time. A good rule of thumb is that when the gas tank is half empty, fill it up.

4. Look out for black ice

Black ice occurs when the pavement looks wet but is actually icy. This is due to snow melting during the day and then freezing again when the temperature drops. It can be hard actually to see black ice, so it’s important to pay attention to the outside temperature gauge in the car. Keep in mind that if the temperature falls, there could be black ice where you are driving.

5. Don’t use cruise control

A view of GM's supercruise in action
2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Super Cruise | GMC

When driving in snow, you want to make sure that you have as much control as possible. In that case, don’t use cruise control. This driving feature keeps the car at a constant speed and can cause you to lose control when driving over black ice or a snowy road.

6. Invest in new wiper blades

A car with its windshield wipers up.
A car with its windshield wipers up. | Robert Alexander/Getty Images

It’s a good idea to invest in new wiper blades if the set on your car is old. You’ll need wiper blades to wipe away the snow as it falls. We recommend the Michelin XT windshield wiper blades. They are made of silicon and work in extreme weather conditions.

If the weather is too bad, stay home

Ultimately, if the weather outside is too harsh, just stay home. Unless you really need to get somewhere, it’s most likely a smarter idea to take shelter and keep yourself out of harm’s way. After all, there’s nothing like a nice fire and hot chocolate to keep you cozy on a snowy day. If you must go out, remember to follow the aforementioned six tips.


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