Stay Safe in the Snow With These Winter Weather Driving Tips

Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive, you’ll want to stay safe when driving in winter weather. While some vehicles come with safety features specifically for snow, these are some tips that anyone can utilize. Cold climates, snowy roads, and icy streets can be very dangerous. Make sure to follow these tips, and stay safe out there this winter.

Winter weather driving tips for staying safe in the snow

A man cleans snow from his car, a snow scraper is a good tip for driving in winter weather.
A man cleans snow off his car | Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images

An essential tip you should know is to drive slower—the inability to stop or turn causes most accidents on snowy or icy roads. If you’re moving slower, both are easier and less dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 182,000 police-reported crashes in 2019 due to winter weather conditions. Make sure to drive slowly, leave space to stop in front of you, and keep a safe distance from snowplows.

A white Jeep Wrangler covered in snow, here are some tips for driving in winter weather.
A Jeep Wrangler driving through the snow in Denver, Colorado | Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

If your vehicle cannot drive in winter weather, there are a few things you can do to keep safe. Firstly, be sure to stay with your car. Don’t waste energy walking around and overexerting yourself on something that won’t help. If you have anything bright that can easily be seen, put it somewhere visible. Lastly, only run the car enough to stay warm, don’t waste fuel if you don’t have to. Ensure a clear exhaust pipe; carbon monoxide is a silent killer, don’t let snow clog it up.

Prepare your tires for the snow

Winter tires with snow in it on a black vehicle, they're a great addition to any vehicle needing to drive in winter weather.
Winter tires | Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Firstly, the air in tires fluctuates as the weather changes. Your tires likely lost some air when it began getting very cold outside. Make sure to inflate your tires, so you’re not caught with a flat at the worst possible time. Additionally, inspect tires for damage, bubbles, cracks, holes, and age. A tire that’s too old will “expire” and start to see significant and potentially dangerous issues.

Another option is installing snow or winter tires before the bad weather arrives. These tires allow for better control and traction when driving on slippery surfaces. Although it won’t be cheap, it might be worth it if you live in a frigid and snowy climate.

Winter weather driving tips: check on your standard and electric vehicle batteries

A 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT all-electric compact SUV model with a gold color option parked on a race track
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT | The Ford Motor Company

Regardless of which type of vehicle you drive, the battery can be affected negatively by the winter weather. Cold temperatures can drain the battery or cause problems with starting the car. Make sure to get your battery tested ahead of time so you don’t find out the hard way.

If you’re the owner of a fully-electric vehicle, cold weather might reduce your driving range. Double-check that everything is appropriately charged before a long road trip, so you don’t lose power on the road. It’s obvious but so important it’s one of our winter weather driving tips.

Plan ahead before you drive

A man scrapes ice off the windshield of a car, an ice scraper is just one of our tips for driving in winter weather.
A man scraping ice off his windshield | Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Make sure your vehicle is stocked with supplies for driving in winter weather. Snow and ice can be a pain to deal with, but prepared drivers have a much easier time. Some items to have onboard at all times are:

  • snow shovel
  • ice scraper
  • jumper cables
  • flares/emergency markers
  • blankets/extra warm clothing
  • charged phone
  • food and water

Just like your cell phone, make sure your vehicle is fully charged or fueled when you leave home. Although you might never run out of gas or charge, the worst time to do so would be during a snowstorm, mainly because your only source of heat might be the car itself.

Next, make sure you know where you’re going. If the only place you travel is a common destination for you, fear not. However, if you’re driving somewhere new or far away, make sure to plan the route and know it well. Losing a cell or GPS signal or just having reduced vision in a storm can make roads very difficult to navigate. You’ll want to know the roads on which you’re driving like the back of your hand.

Stay safe in the snow, and all year ’round with these winter weather driving tips

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The NHTSA encourages drivers to use its recall lookup tool to determine if their vehicle has any known issues. Some problems could be related to cold-weather driving. If there’s a recall or significant issue with the model you drive, the worst time to find out would be in the snow.

In conclusion, you can take tons of precautions to stay safe in the snow. These winter weather driving tips from the NHTSA will help ensure you and your family are safe this winter. Planning, preparing what you can, and driving carefully are essential. Use these tips, or stay home to make sure you’re safe in the snow during the winter season.

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