Safe Winter Driving: Safety Tips & Reminders

December 26th, 2017

safe winter driving

Winter Driving

Winter in the mid-west means sometimes driving in less than ideal conditions. Although driving in winter can be more hazardous, if we take the proper precautions, safe winter driving can happen. And, we can avoid being in an accident.

The Risks: Injury and Property Damage

Winter conditions make driving more difficult in a variety of ways. Snow and ice decrease the traction our tires have with the road. This problem is magnified on corners and hills. This can result in collisions with other vehicles and ending up in a ditch. Another hazard can come into play when people get stranded in bad weather. Every year, people die trying to get help. They underestimate the effects that the cold weather can have on the body, or they lack the proper winter clothing.

The Solution: Think Before You Drive!

The first questions we should always ask ourselves are, “Is it safe for me to be driving?” and “Do I really need to drive, or can this wait?” Check the local forecast and road conditions. If travel is not advised, or weather conditions are expected to get bad, don’t drive!

Safe winter driving means if you are driving in winter weather, slow down. Leave about three times as much distance as you normally would if you are following another vehicle. When braking, apply the brake gently. Slamming the brakes can cause skidding. Do not assume that if you are in a four-wheel-drive vehicle you can drive on any surfaces. On glare ice, four-wheel-drive just means four wheels will be spinning instead of two.

Pack a car emergency kit. Items to have in your vehicle for winter driving include: cold-weather clothing (i.e. boots, gloves and hat); shovel; flashlight; sand or kitty litter; blankets; water; and food.

If you skid off the road and end up in a ditch, try rocking the vehicle back and forth, especially if your car wheels are spinning. Your best plan if you are stranded is to call for help and stay put. Even if the automobile isn’t running, it will provide shelter from wind and snow.

The Three ‘P’s’ of Safe Winter Driving: Prepare, Protect, Prevent

PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes on the road.


  • Maintain Your Vehicle: Check battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.
  • Have On Hand: flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares), blankets, non-perishable food and water, medication, and cell phone.
  • Stopped or Stalled? Stay in your vehicle! Shine your lights at oncoming traffic, and run your vehicle just long enough to keep warm.
  • Plan Your route. Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the maps/directions, and let others know your arrival time.


  • Buckle up!


  • Slow down and increase distances between cars.
  • Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking in the road.
  • Avoid fatigue – Get plenty of rest before the trip, stop at least every three hours.

We want you to be safe at work, too, which is why we blog about it. Check out the Workplace Safety category on and check back monthly for new information. Be safe!

This blog about Safe Winter Driving was written by Safety Management Services Company and edited by ABR. It is being shared with permission. 

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