Everyone knows that winter driving can be hazardous. In California and the southern states, you may face torrential rains and flooding conditions that make driving demanding and dangerous. Thick fog can appear seemingly out of nowhere, when cool air meets the warmer ground. As a driver, you may even have an occasional bout of hail, sleet, or snow to handle. If you live in a northern state, you can almost certainly look forward to times of intense cold, sleet, freezing rain, and lots of snow, all contributing to dangerous road conditions.

No matter where you live, you should be prepared for winter driving and the conditions that it can create in your area. Below are a few driving tips that will help you to arrive alive, even during difficult driving conditions.

In the case of extreme fog, it is best not to drive at all but if you have to, slow down. Driving too fast or following other vehicles too closely causes most of the accidents that occur in foggy conditions. Make sure to drive with your low beams on, and stay within the limits of your vision. If the fog gets too dense, pull completely off the road, stop, and turn on your hazard lights.

Even a simple rain shower can cause problems on the road. If it starts raining while you are driving, increase your braking distance and lower your speed on curves and during turns. If it begins to rain more heavily, slow down even more to avoid hydroplaning, which is when your tires ride on a layer of water and not on the pavement.

If snow has fallen before you begin driving, remove all snow and ice from your vehicle and especially your windows before you head out onto the roadway. Also, make certain that your vehicle is in good working condition and that you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.

If you will be driving in an area known for snowy conditions, consider using snow tires or chains for extra traction. Test your braking ability by gently applying pressure to the brake pedal and releasing. If the road is icy or frozen, reduce your speed accordingly.

Shaded areas, bridges, and overpasses are often icier than other places on the road. Be careful and be prepared. Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged in case you need to make an emergency call. Consider carrying food and a winter survival kit in your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • Small Snow Shovel
  • Tire Chains
  • Small bag of abrasive materials (sand, salt or kitty litter)
  • Cloth or roll of material
  • Jumper cables
  • Blanket
  • Snow brush
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Traction mats 
  • Flashlight

Finally, check local weather reports before travelling into a winter storm area. If possible, enjoy the winter wonderland from the comfort of your home. If you must drive, follow these tips to prevent the mishaps of winter driving. Arrive alive.