Snow And Ice Life Or Death Winter Driving Tips -- Or At Least Accident Prevention Tips

The Indiana Department of Transportation knows snow. Every year Northwest Indiana gets hit by additional Lake Effect Snow from strong northwest winds after the main snow storms hit. Here is information adapted from the Indiana Department of Transportation and other sources for all drivers in Winter weather.


Knowledge: Before leaving home, find out about the driving conditions, and be aware of the weather forecast to help you with making driving decisions. Safe drivers know the weather, and their limits. If the weather is bad remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow, or just don't go.

Clear: Remove any snow on your vehicle's windows, lights, brake lights and signals. Make sure you can see and be seen. As Sergeant Scott Kristiansen, of the Buffalo Grove Police Department says, "Don't be a peephole driver." Peephole drivers can't see hazards on the road because their field of vision is limited. Peephole drivers often drive up on median curbs at intersections because they can't see them while their turning. Of course, peephole drivers can't see cross traffic as well as they should.

Inspect: Check your vehicle's tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts and hoses. A breakdown is bad on a good day and dangerous on a bad-weather day.

Time: Leave plenty of time to reach your destination safely. It's not worth putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation just to be on time.

Inventory: Keep your gas tank at least half full. Especially if you are traveling a distance through rural areas, carry a winter driving kit that should include blankets, flashlight, extra batteries, a brightly colored cloth, sand (or cat litter), shovel, candle, matches, non-perishable high calorie food (energy bars that aren't hard as a rock when cold), first aid kit, and jumper cables


There's nothing worse than a first time snow when driver's tend to forget to slow down and take extra care while driving.

First Snow or Ice: Drivers often aren't prepared for winter driving and forget to take it slow. Remember to drive well below the posted speed limit and leave plenty of room between cars.

Black Ice: Roads that seem dry may actually be slippery – and dangerous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady areas – all are common spots for black ice. Remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.

Limited Visibility: Stay attentive and reduce speed. Know what's going on around you.

Four-Wheel Drive: Especially on expressway, four-wheel drive vehicles can lose control just easily as a car at higher speeds, and their more likely to roll over. Many SUVs are found in ditches on snowy days. On snow and ice, go slowly, no matter what type of vehicle you drive. Even if you have an SUV with four-wheel drive you may not be able to stop any faster, or maintain control any better, once you lose traction. Four-wheel drive may get you going faster from a stop, but it won't help you stop sooner.


Snow plows are out on the roads before, during and after the storm. Keep your distance from snow plows and watch out for other motorists that maneuver carelessly around snow plows.

Distance: Give snowplows room to work. The plows are wide and can cross the centerline or shoulder. Don't tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution and beware of the snow cloud.

Speed: Snowplows travel below the posted speed limit. Be patient. Allow plenty of time to slow down. Remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow. Collision with snow plows are obviously likely to cause serious injuries.

Vision: A snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they don't always see you. Keep your distance and watch for sudden stops or turns.


Speed: The faster you're going, the longer it will take to stop. When accelerating on snow or ice, take it slow to avoid slipping or sliding. Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.

Distance: Give yourself space. It takes extra time and extra distance to bring your car to a stop on slick and snowy roads. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Brake: Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly and never slam on the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal. Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop.

If you've never felt your ABS system activate it could startle you. [When your ABS system brakes activate] you should feel a rapid "pulsing" in the pedal and might hear what sounds like a grinding noise. It almost seems like the brakes are not working properly and can surprise you if you're not expecting it. When using anti-lock braking, never let off the brake pedal and make sure to apply constant pressure until you stop.

-- Sergeant Scott Kristiansen, Buffalo Grove Police Department

Control: When driving on ice and snow, do not use cruise control and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. When merging into traffic, take it slow. Sudden movements can cause your vehicle to slide.

Snow, ice, slush or even rain can cause wheel-spin and loss of control. The cruise control in you car or truck is designed for normal road conditions. It doesn't know when the pavement is slippery. Under slick conditions, you need to be in complete control and continuously monitoring road conditions. When your tires hit a slick spot and lose contact with the roadway your cruise control is not able to adequately sense the roadway conditions. An activated cruise control system will continue to apply power, keeping the wheels spinning. When the tires make contact with firm road again, the car can skid or lose control.

-- Sergeant Scott Kristiansen, Buffalo Grove Police Department

Vision: Be aware of what's going on well ahead of you. Actions by other vehicles will alert you to problems more quickly, and give you that split-second of extra time to react safely.


Especially in Winter conditions, a crash can be followed by a second crash or multiple crashes. If it is safe to stay in your vehicle, it is best to stay in your vehicle, call 9-1-1 and wait for rescuers to shut down the road or protect the crash scene. Many people that get out of their vehicles have been struck and killed by other vehicles that either lose control or have a second crash while passing the first crash. Operators at 9-1-1 centers appreciate getting information from a vehicle occupant that has actually been involved in the crash for more accurate information about the crash and surrounding conditions. It is much easier for them to hear callers when they are inside the vehicle, rather than outside with high wind noise whipping across the cell phone microphone.


Don't leave your car. It's the best protection you have.

Tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna.

Roll down your window a small amount to allow fresh air in your vehicle and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep the exhaust pipe free of blockage from snow or other material to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Don't panic. An idling car uses approximately one gallon of gas per hour.

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Winter driving, snow, Indiana Department of Transportation