Winter is nearly here, time to prepare for safe winter driving

SUNBURY – The winter months are upon us, and that means the roads can become treacherous at anytime.  Kimberly Smith, Safety Press Officer for PennDOT District 3-0, and Tara Schane, Community Traffic Coordinator, with the North Central Highway Safety Network, were in the WKOK studios telling us about winter driving safety.


Schane says safety begins when we start our vehicles, “So we want to make sure we clean off our car so we have the best visibility. Also we want to make sure we’re clearing it off so we make sure that debris is not flying off of our vehicle. We don’t want snow or ice flying off of our vehicle causing a hazard on the road, and that’s also the law.”

A city truck plows snow from the street during a winter storm in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Kimberly Smith says her most important tip is to not leave the house, but if it’s absolutely necessary, check the weather forecast before you leave and take your time. “We want you to give yourself plenty of time. Let somebody know where you’re going and what time you’re expected. That way if you don’t show up, they know about where to find you. We hear these stories about people getting trapped or locked and hours go by and nobody knows how to find them.”


Smith and Schane have a whole list of winter driving safety tips from what to have packed in your car throughout the winter in for times when you may be stuck in your car, to what to do during a very heavy snow squall.


Winter Driving

Remember, if winter weather is forecast, eliminate all unnecessary travel. This will keep you and your family safe and allow PennDOT to more easily perform its winter duties. However, if you must travel, PennDOT offers the following tips for safe driving this winter season.


  • Carry a winter emergency travel kit. (See Graphic)
  • Listen to weather and travel advisories, but if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Slow down and increase following distance.
  • Avoid sudden stops and starts.
  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice.”
  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning.
  • Carry a cellphone.
  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.
  • State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.
  • Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.
  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as needed.
  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. State law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.
  • Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes.
  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).
  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. In case you run into an emergency and need help, someone will know where to look for you.
  • If you do become stranded, it’s better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.
  • Do not drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt.



Preparation is also key to successfully navigating winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that both you and your vehicle are ready for ice and snow.

Include items specific to your family’s needs, like medicine, baby formula and diapers.

Visit 511PA to check road conditions and plow locations.

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