Winter Road Safety

Driving in snow and ice is a serious matter, and winter storms can strand drivers for hours before help can arrive.

If possible, wait until plows have cleared the way. If you must drive in snow and ice, completely clear snow and ice from your vehicle before moving. Clear all windows, but don't use wipers on an icy windshield - ice can cut the blades.

Avoid spinning the wheels. Clear an area around your tires and use an inexpensive, clay-type kitty litter to improve traction. Stopping on snow and ice may require up to 10 times the distance as stopping in normal conditions. Keep plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Most importantly, don't "lock up" the wheels. [ABS brakes are specifically designed to help prevent wheels from locking.]

  • Slow down considerably before entering a curve or making a turn. Take your foot off the gas and let the engine slow you down. Then brake – gently.
  • Don't be overly confident with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. It won't stop any faster.
  • With ABS brakes, press the pedal firmly and hold it. If your car is not equipped with anti-lock brakes, when the wheels locks don’t slam on the brakes, ease off the brake pedal, then gently re-apply pressure to avoid sliding as you stop.

In snow and ice, slow down; avoid sudden maneuvers. Try to keep moving and keep your wheels from spinning, no matter how slow you must go to do so. Use tire chains where allowed by law. When driving downhill, use a low gear and let the engine help you keep the car in control.


Remember that overpasses and bridges freeze before other pavement. Even if it seems warm enough for ice to melt, it still can be hazardous.

If you begin to slide, don't slam on the brakes. Simply ease off the accelerator, then gently apply brake pressure and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Be ready to correct for a slide in the opposite direction.

Winter Storm Driving Tips

  • Tie a bright-colored cloth to your antenna; raise the hood.
  • Start the engine; turn on the interior light and heater for about 10 minutes each hour.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear. Slightly open a downwind window as a vent.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Clap your hands and move your legs to stimulate circulation. Use maps, newspaper or car MATS for more insulation.

Winter Car Check List

  • Brakes and tires
  • Battery and ignition system
  • Antifreeze and thermostat
  • Wipers and de-icing washer fluid
  • Headlights, tail and brake lights, blinkers and emergency flashers
  • Exhaust system, heater and defroster


Winter Blizzard Driving

If you become trapped during a blizzard, DO NOT leave the car unless help is visible within 100 yards. It is easy to become disoriented and lost in blowing, drifting snow and white-out conditions. Always carry a cell phone and call for help as soon as you become stuck.

Suggested articles you should have in your vehicle at all times

  • Cell Phone
  • Gloves
  • Coat & Waterproof poncho
  • First-aid kit with sterile pads, aspirin, sting relief pad and instructions
  • A gallon of drinking water [replace every year or when the shelf date expires]
  • Spotlight/flashlight and extra batteries
  • Road flares or reflective triangles
  • Empty, approved gas container
  • Strong rope or tow chain
  • Swiss Army-style knife
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Tool kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Solar blanket
  • Tire repair canister
Benny N. Napoleon
Wayne County Sheriff
(313) 224-2222

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