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Winter driving adds distinct dangers to our daily commutes and cruises. A lower coefficient of friction and unforeseen issues could turn a routine romp into a crash and hours of being stranded on the highway. However, you can feel confident driving in the snow with these implements in your car.

Keep these five things in your car to stay safe while driving in the snow

In addition to keeping up with your car’s maintenance schedule and driving on healthy, seasonally appropriate tires, you should keep winter essentials in your car.

  • Blankets, warming layers
  • Phone charging equipment
  • Emergency kit
  • Gritting material
  • Combination ice scraper/brush

Accidents, road closures, and breakdowns could mean time spent in your car. I recommend keeping blankets or warming layers in your car to stay warm and fend off hypothermia in an emergency. What’s more, drivers should always have a charged cell phone when driving in the snow. That, and the means to keep it charged. A portable battery charger can add vital minutes to a phone’s capacity. 

Based on my experiences as a firefighter, I can’t tout the importance of an emergency kit enough. Basic first aid materials, a flashlight with extra batteries, a seatbelt cutter, a window smashing tool, and water are musts in a well-stocked emergency kit. Additionally, firefighters recommend a high-visibility vest and a road triangle to warn other motorists of your situation.

Snow, ice, and slush can trap your vehicle and limit traction. This is where gritting material comes in. In addition to adding weight to your trunk, gritting material like sand or kitty litter can give your vehicle extra purchase when driving through the snow and ice. 

A person scrapes ice on their windshield before driving in the snow.
Ice scraper | Milan Krasula via iStock

While it might seem more of a convenience than a necessity, a combination ice scraper/brush can come in handy. Despite storing my car in a garage before every shift, I would routinely leave the fire station after a shift to find a buried car. A scraper/brush tool could be your ticket to getting back on the road sooner rather than later.

Even in climates where you wouldn’t expect snowfall, a combination ice scraper/brush could help you stay one step ahead of winter weather. For instance, Central Texas has experienced unseasonable freezes and limited snowfall over the last few winters. As a result, over a million Austinites didn’t have the tools to deal with snow and ice.

That said, the most important thing to stay safe while driving in the snow is a dependable set of winter tires. Winter tires are better for driving in the snow than all-wheel drive (AWD) on all-season rubber. Traction is vital in inclement weather.