Winter Driving Safety Tips: Staying Safe on Dangerous Winter Roads

Winter Storm Snow Plow

Before you head out on the roads this winter, make sure your vehicle is ready for whatever nature has in store for you.

Vehicle Maintenance Checks

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your vehicle, which is why it’s so important to keep up with your vehicle’s routine maintenance needs. It would be best if you did regular checks at the beginning of every season.

Inspecting vehicle for problems
  • Make sure you check your vehicle’s fluid levels – Antifreeze, oil, and transmission fluids should all be checked and topped off before you leave. Also, make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and that it’s rated for freezing temperatures.
  • Check your Battery– If your battery is over three years old, it’s probably a good idea to check it before heading out on a long road trip. Most auto part stores offer free battery checks and only take a couple of minutes of your time.
  • Check your air pressure – Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure; in the winter, this can be a huge problem. When the temperatures start to dip, cold weather can cause your tires to become dangerously underinflated. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, your tires can lose as much as 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. So before heading out, make sure you check your tire’s air pressure.
  • Routine Checks – Before leaving, give your vehicle a final once-over. Look for leaks, worn-out hoses, cracks in your belts, and make sure you inspect your tire tread.  If anything looks out of whack, now is the time to take care of it.

Winter Vehicle Preparedness

If you’re heading out on a long-distance trip to see the family, don’t overlook the need to bring along some emergency supplies. Many people make the mistake of thinking they’re safe because they’re traveling on a major highway, but that might not always be the case. For example, winter storms can quickly and easily shut down even high-traffic highways, leaving motorists stranded on the roadways until emergency help can make their way through the storm.

Like any emergency gear bag, your vehicle kit should be adapted for your family’s unique needs. That being said, there are some everyday items that everyone should consider keeping in their vehicle – especially when traveling far from home.

What Gear should be in your Emergency Vehicle Kit?

Vehicle Maintenance & Emergency Repairs

  • Spare Fuses
  • Tire Pump, Patches & a can of Fix a Flat
  • Properly inflated spare tire (preferably full size)
  • Extra Oil
  • Gas Can (if you can safely haul it on your vehicle)
  • Antifreeze
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare Hoses & Fan Belts
  • Fire extinguisher

Emergency Essentials

Every vehicle should have some sort of emergency bag, which should be checked and changed out depending on the season. Essential winter supplies include:

Vehicle Specific Gear

  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flares & other Signaling devices
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Shovel (to dig your way out if you get stuck)
  • Bag of salt or cat litter (for traction when stuck)
  • Reflective triangles and brightly colored cloth
  • Quality Car Jack
  • Tire Chains (great for extra traction in  snow, mud & sand)
  • Traction Matt or a couple of feet of rolled-up carpet (Great for getting unstuck in snow, mud & sand)

Safety & Winter Emergency Preparedness Gear

Be Prepared To Stop

Far too many disasters happen on the roadways this time of  year; sadly, many of these accidents happen because people aren’t willing to stop. Wherever you’re going can wait; driving through dangerous conditions just so you can make it to your destination on time is not something that’s worth dying over.

If road conditions are bad, please be prepared to stop and hold up at a hotel or a truck stop until the roads are in a safe traveling condition.

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. I can definitely agree that many people aren’t willing to stop. This happened to me first hand while riding the Amtrak bus from Bakersfield, over the Grapevine and going on towards Southern California. The drivers originally stopped going through the grapevine once they noticed blizzard like conditions (they had no snow chains) and then they turned back to Bakersfield, and claimed we’d stay there overnight. That sounded perfectly fine to me, but instead they changed their mind and decided to go through the Tehachapi mountain region instead. That was just as bad, and they wouldn’t turn back this time, the bus kept sliding and there were many people caught in the conditions, where you could barely see the cars ahead of you. It was just awful. Another instance was when a friend of mine was going with others to Vegas and got caught in the snow without the snow chains and didn’t want to turn back. They got stuck in the snow for a while before someone helped them get out of it, and kept on going through the snow towards Vegas. I told her to possibly turn back if she could and she didn’t want to. Sometimes stubbornness can be very risky. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Here in Atlanta thousands of motorists abandoned their
    cars because of winter storm Leon. I think your tips should have been required reading LAST week before the storm. I know many people that would have paid handsomely for a bag of kitty litter to get them off the ice!

  3. I live in upstate NY and have experience some really bad winters. Preparing for the winter season is something that most New Yorkers do.

    My heart and prayers goes out to the southern states that are experiencing such bad winter season as they are not use to it and are definitely not prepared.

    Your tips in this article are right on point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.