Winter Safety: Tips for Driving in the Snow


Your vehicle isn’t the only thing that needs to be winter-ready; brush up on these techniques and best practices for driving in the snow to stay safe on slippery roads.

Preparing vehicles for wintery conditions is important. It’s recommended to ensure that your tires are in good shape, your windshield wipers are working, your brakes have been properly serviced, and you have a snow scraper in the car. Places that expect to see significant snow are diligent about addressing car mechanics in anticipation of winter weather. 

That said, it’s equally important to prepare OURSELVES for driving in the snow. We must be ready to adjust some of our more “auto-pilot” driving habits to be better prepared for the unpredictable nature of winter driving. With the help of The Cincinnati Insurance Companies, here are a  few tips that will help you avoid an accident if you find yourself driving in wintery weather. 


These pre-trip assurances are extremely important during the winter. Get into the habit of making sure windows and mirrors are clean and wipers are cleared before you start out. Clean all lights and make sure your heater and defroster are working properly. It’s also recommended to carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid.


It’s a great idea to carry a blanket and/or extra clothing in your vehicle. Pack a water bottle and some high-energy food/protein bars in case you become stuck or stranded. It’s also a good idea to keep an extra charger on hand and ensure your cell phone is fully charged prior to heading out.


A normal, 20 minute trip in good conditions may turn into a 40 minute when the weather is bad. It’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to reach your destination(s).


If conditions become hazardous, don’t forget that you can always get off the road at the nearest exit, gas station, or other safe place and wait out the storm. If you get stranded on or off the road, stay in your vehicle and let someone know where you are. If you’ll be remaining in your vehicle for a while, keep a window cracked for ventilation and make sure the exhaust system is clear of snow. Ration your fuel if you know it will be a while until someone can rescue you.


Driving and continuing to stare into onrushing snowflakes can cause a state described as the “1,000-yard stare,” when the eyes become unfocused and mental alertness wanes. This can be compounded when looking through an “ice tunnel” of a not-fully-cleared windshield. Warm up your vehicle and take breaks if needed to refocus your attention or clear snow from your vehicle.


Even if your mind and body are telling you it feels safe at 40 mph, drive at 35 mph. It’s always safer to drive 5 mph below what you think or feel is safe. Further, make sure that your directional and lane changes are gradual. Signal well in advance, then slowly complete the maneuver. Be sure to also extend the distance interval between yourself and the vehicle in front of you; it takes longer to stop in sloppy weather.


Many cars come equipped with antilock (ABS) brakes, which respond and feel different than standard brakes. If you begin to skid, release the accelerator, and steer in the direction you want to go. Do everything gently and turn the steering wheel as little as possible. It’s also best to avoid using cruise control where the roads might be slick. Cruise control can apply power suddenly or at the wrong time, potentially causing a skid or making a minor skid uncontrollable. If cruise control is on and you think the road might be slick, use the hand-operated controls to turn it off; tapping the brakes can initiate a skid.

We hope you find these tips helpful when driving in the snow and navigating less-than-ideal winter roadway conditions. And, if you do end up getting into an accident, utilize these tips on what to do after the event. Of course, it’s never a bad idea to check up on your insurance coverage as well. If you’re looking for local agents to help you find the best auto coverage available at an affordable price, then reach out to The Feltner Group to get started today.