Winter Driving Preparedness

Winter Driving Preparedness

Whether you’re a native, a new resident, or a tourist, driving in Colorado winter weather can be dangerous if you’re not prepared. 

The unexpected can happen when snow and ice are on the road — take extra precautions to prepare you and your vehicle for winter road conditions.  Consider the preparedness lists below to stay ready for winter weather.

Automotive Checklist

Before you begin your drive, make sure all of the following are in safe operating condition:

  • Windshield wiper fluid 
  • Heater/Defroster
  • Wiper Blades
  • Radiator/Antifreeze
  • Lights
  • Fuel System and a full tank of gas
  • Ignition
  • Exhaust System
  • Tire Tread (at least 3/16″)
  • Battery
  • Brakes

Safety Checklist

Consider having the following items in your vehicle in case of an emergency:

Essential Items

  • Sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or crank-powered flashlight
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Gallon jug of water
  • First aid kit and essential medications
  • Tire chains and tow strap
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists
  • Battery or crank-powered radio to listen to emergency broadcasts

Secondary Items

  • Extra set of clothes, including coat, hat, mittens, boots, etc.
  • Chemical hand warmers
  • Non-perishable snacks like granola bars
  • Non-clumping kitty litter/sand for traction
  • Deck of cards or board game for entertainment

Tips for Driving in Snow

  • Take a little extra time to clear your car of snow and ice before leaving for your destination.
  • There are three actions you do most when you drive: accelerateturn and brake. In winter weather, you should only do one of those actions at a time. Attempting more than one of these actions at once can cause slide-outs, spin-outs and other harmful scenarios.
  • When traveling downhill, if possible, switch to a lower gear, and gently tap your brakes. This helps to avoid burning your brakes, and in winter weather, it helps keep traction.
  • Keep momentum when traveling uphill to avoid getting stuck.
  • When driving at night, keep your headlight beams low. High beams can amplify the appearance of snow and lead to decreased visibility.
  • Slow down – driving too fast for conditions causes most crashes.
  • If you encounter a multi-car collision, stay in your car. You’re safer in your car than outside of it. 
  • Signage is your best friend – look ahead and plan ahead for abrupt turns or stops.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Never drive impaired.

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