Winter Weather Driving Tips from

The Basics —- If you don’t have to drive: Don’t Drive!

Travelers should prepare for winter driving conditions throughout the state over the next few days.

Snow, low temperatures, and high winds are all in the forecast. Let’s be careful out there and slow down and don’t tailgate. Be SURE to leave two car lengths in front of you at all times, especially when approaching a stop sign or red light, so you don’t slam into the vehicle in front of you. Rear-end collisions are often the fastest way to get into a wintery accident.

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Valleys and other low elevation areas will likely have less snow, but low overnight temperatures can make roads icy. A clear road can still have ice, so slow down and budget extra time for your trip.

Many roads through high-elevation areas have packed snow and ice. High winds may cause snow drifts, too. Tire chain restrictions are in effect on most high-elevation roads. If you’re traveling this week, be winter-ready with water, snacks, warm clothing, medications, and other essentials.

Visit for the latest on road conditions, chain restrictions, and other winter travel information throughout Oregon

Whether it’s snow, sleet or ice, winter weather can cause extremely dangerous road conditions.

Preparing yourself – and your vehicle – for winter weather is key.

Slow down.

It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. In fact, in 2020, there were an estimated 119,000 police- reported crashes that occurred in wintry conditions. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.

Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside the truck. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay far enough behind it and use caution if you pass the plow.

What to Do in an Emergency

If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, stay focused on yourself and your passengers, your car, and your surroundings.

  • Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself. 
  • Let your car be seen. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light on. 
  • Be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow and run your car only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm. Don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

Stock Your Vehicle

Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving-related tasks, and supplies you might need in an emergency, including:

  • a snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper; 
  • abrasive material (sand or kitty litter), in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow; 
  • jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices (flares and emergency markers); 
  • blankets for protection from the cold; and 
  • a cell phone and charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine.

Prepare Your Car for Winter

In addition to annual maintenance, here are some tips to winterize your car:

● Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops
● Make sure the cooling system is in good working order
● Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car
● If using all-season tires, check the tread and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch
● Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops
● Check your wiper blades and replace if needed
● Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees
● Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze

Remember to keep your car’s emergency preparedness kit fully stocked, too.

Before You Start Out

● Clean your car’s external camera lenses and side mirrors
● Remove dirt, ice and snow from sensors to allow the assistive-driving features, like automatic emergency braking, to work
● In frigid weather, you may want to warm up the car before you drive
● To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never leave a vehicle running in your garage – even with the garage door up
● If the forecast looks iffy, wait out the storm; if you must travel, share your travel plans and route with someone before you leave

How to Avoid a Crash

AAA offers the following driving tips:

● Avoid using cruise control in wintry conditions
● Steer in the direction of a skid, so when your wheels regain traction, you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane
● Accelerate and decelerate slowly
● Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds
● If possible, don’t stop when going uphill

If visibility is severely limited due to a whiteout, pull off the road to a safe place and do not drive until conditions improve. Avoid pulling off onto the shoulder unless it is an absolute emergency. Limited visibility means other vehicles can’t see yours on the shoulder.

Source: (Brian Casey) ( —

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