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Your Guide to Winter Driving Safety

It's winter, and that means the roads are surely going to be covered in snow and ice. Driving at this time of year can be hazardous, so you need to know what to do if something goes wrong out there.


There's plenty you can do to prepare for inclement winter weather before you even turn the key in your ignition. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:

  • Before the worst weather hits, take your car in for a tune-up and have it checked for leaks, worn belts and hoses, and other repairs.

  • Always clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, and sensors before driving your vehicle.

You should also prepare an emergency kit for your car. Some items to include for the winter:

  • An ice scraper to clear your windows.

  • Cat litter or sand, which can provide traction on snow and ice.

  • A shovel to dig yourself out of deep snow.

  • Spare warm clothes and blankets.


It's good to know how to handle yourself if something goes wrong on the road. OSHA and the NHTSA recommend practicing driving in winter conditions in an empty parking lot. In particular:

  • Practice steering into a skid.

  • Understand how the brakes in your vehicle work. Do you have anti-lock brakes? You should press firmly on anti-lock brakes, but you must pump non-anti-lock brakes to keep them from locking up.

  • Remember that stopping distances are longer on slippery surfaces, so get into the habit of braking earlier.


Ultimately, your safety on the road comes down to what you do and how you react on the road. Groups like AAA recommend some common sense tips for driving in winter weather:

  • Drive slowly and avoid sharp acceleration or deceleration.

  • Avoid coming to a complete stop if you don't have to. Accelerating from a dead stop is a lot more difficult on icy surfaces.

  • Don't use too much power going up hills, but don't stop on the way up either. Pittsburgh has plenty of crazy hills, so you may want to consider alternate routes when possible.

And of course, be aware of other drivers at all times. You may know how to handle your vehicle in the snow, but not everyone else does. Keep an eye out for danger and avoid distractions, and you should stay safe this winter.

If you do have a car accident, especially if you suffer an injury, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney. Dugan & Associates are Pittsburgh's accident attorneys, with the expertise to get you the compensation you deserve in your time of need. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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