Top 10 Tips for Driving in Winter Weather

As temperatures drop and roads get slippery with ice and snow, even the most experienced of drivers can face challenges. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are over 1.2 million weather-related vehicle crashes across the U.S. each year, with 18% of them occurring due to adverse winter conditions. This year, Rand McNally’s road trip experts have compiled a list of tips to help keep drivers safe and road-ready.

1. Know the meaning of different winter weather alerts issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). Make sure you know the difference among the various alerts before you hit the road:

a. Winter Storm Warning: This warning is issued when a significant winter weather event occurs, including snow, ice, sleet or blowing snow. The NWS advises against traveling; if you must drive, bring a winter survival kit (see point No. 5) in your vehicle.
b. Winter Storm Watch: This alert means that severe winter conditions may be in effect and could make travel treacherous. You can expect heavy sleet, heavy snow, ice, blowing snow, and poor visibility.
c. Winter Weather Advisory: The advisory is announced when wintry conditions are expected, but conditions are not as hazardous as the warnings or watches. Be alert and careful on the road at all times.

2. Slow down and proceed with caution. If the roads are icy, it can take longer to brake, so make sure you are going at a speed that allows you to maintain traction and avoid skidding. Also, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stop at intersections. Allow for three to twelve times more stopping distance than in normal dry conditions, depending upon the size of your vehicle.

3. Pull over if it’s too difficult to safely drive, such as in whiteout conditions, or if you’ve had an accident. If you unexpectedly find yourself unable to drive, try to pull over and park your car out of harm’s way. Do not leave your vehicle, sit tight, and wait for help or until the dangerous conditions have passed. You can safely run the heat in your car for 10 minutes every hour to help warm up and keep the battery charged, but ensure that your exhaust pipe is free of snow to avoid any harmful carbon monoxide incidents.
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Travel Tip Of the Day

When merging onto a highway, and all other cars are going 65+ MPH, (especially true at night, in the rain)- let’s not just blindly hop on, going 40, and *hope* that the car that is already on the highway and moving quickly gets out of the way- or screeches on the brakes, and maybe spinning out and crashing.
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