Pennsylvania DOT Issues Tips for Safe Winter Driving
Like many states along the east coast and in the Midwest, Pennsylvania drivers endure harsh winter driving conditions. Here are some of PennDOT’s official recommendations for staying safe on icy roads. Even if you’re not a resident of the Quaker State, consider these helpful tips.
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- Carry an emergency winter travel kit with you at all times. If you want to learn more, we’ve got some great guides on how to assemble a helpful winter emergency kit, even if you’re on a budget.
- If there’s a winter weather advisory, avoid all travel unless absolutely necessary.
- Keep your vehicle’s gas tank from dipping below half full. If there’s too little gas in your car, you could end up with frozen fuel lines. Also, consider adding an anti-freezing agent that’s formulated for gasoline.
- Maintain a safe speed and following distance.
- Avoid jackrabbit starts, and since winter brings slick conditions, give yourself plenty of time to brake.
- Even if there’s little to no ice on the ground, water can freeze quickly on ramps and bridges. In other words, exit ramps can end up quite slippery, so be a little more cautious to avoid a fender bender.
- Keep your cellphone with you at all times and consider carrying a power bank to keep it charged.
- While cruise control can be convenient, avoid using it on snowy streets.
- Maximize your visibility by using your vehicle’s low-beam headlights in snowy conditions.
- Snow emergency routes need to remain clear, so never park or leave your vehicle on them.
- If several snowplows are working side-by-side, don’t try to pass them or weave in between them.
- Even if a road looks like it’s just wet, it may be covered in slippery black ice. Drive less aggressively so you can avoid spinning out.
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- If you end up stranded, it’s usually safest to stay with your vehicle until assistance arrives. Make sure your car’s tailpipe is clear of snow, ice and debris, then run the engine for a short time every hour. It’s a good idea to keep the window cracked to prevent toxic fumes from building up in the cabin.
- Follow some common-sense rules — always make sure all of your occupants buckle up before you drive and never drive while intoxicated.
- Remove snow and ice from your entire vehicle — not just the windshield and mirrors. Sheets of ice can slide off the roof of your car when you’re driving on the highway. If that ice causes death or injury to another person, Pennsylvania state law will hold you accountable.
- Use the buddy system. If you need to drive during severe weather, tell a friend or family member where you’re going, when you intend to arrive, and detail your route. That way, if you get into an accident, someone can send for help.