clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

8 winter driving safety tips

An Olmsted Township police officer waits near a car in a ditch along Sprague Rd. in Olmsted Township, Ohio Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. An overnight winter storm dumped heavy snow across the state, closing schools and businesses and making driving hazardous.
An Olmsted Township police officer waits near a car in a ditch along Sprague Rd. in Olmsted Township, Ohio Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. An overnight winter storm dumped heavy snow across the state, closing schools and businesses and making driving hazardous.
Mark Duncan, AP

If you are planning on traveling this weekend for the holidays, be prepared for traffic — and lots of it.

According to the American Automobile Association, more than 103 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this weekend through Jan. 2.

The AAA also estimates that they will rescue "more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts."

To ensure you don't end up being one of those near 1 million stranded people, here are some tips to make sure you travel safe.

Plan ahead

Check your windshield wipers and tires before driving this holiday season so you are well protected in the wintry weather, according to AAA.

Bring an emergency kit

Travelers should also have an emergency kit in their car, and make sure it contains a snow shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing. More suggestions for an emergency kit can be found here.

Be cautious

The Utah Highway Patrol, along with the Department of Public Safety, warns drivers to slow down, wear seatbelts, and to watch for black ice among other things when they're driving in the snow.

Keep snow off your car

Drivers also need to make sure their car is completly cleared of snow and ice.

"You need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor conditions because you have to keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians, and every other knucklehead on the road," Car Talk wrote. "Make sure every glass surface is clear and transparent by using a snowbrush and/or ice scraper. Your side-view mirrors, and all all lights should be brushed and cleared as well."

If that doesnt convince you, watch the video below of what happens when you don't clean off the snow and ice.

Stay full ... on gas

Keep the gas tank as close to full as possible. If your car breaks down or you slide off the road, leaving you stuck for a while, you will need to stay warm.

Travelers.com recommends running "the car heater to stay warm for 10 minutes every hour, but make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent any buildup."

Watch for weather

Travelers.com also writes that people traveling should "monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites."

Drive slowly

It's better to get there late, than not arrive at all.

Safecar.gov warns drivers to travel slowly. It's also a good idea to increase the distance between you and other cars when in stormy weather.

Tell others about your plan

Plan your route ahead of time, and make sure someone knows your travel plans. As we saw this week with the missing West Jordan man, making sure someone knows your plans can help ensure people are looking for you if something goes wrong.