Winter Driving Safety Tips

Mainers know how quickly fall turns to winter. One minute we're raking leaves, the next shoveling snow. That's why it's important to have your car ready for the cold days and colder nights ahead. From slippery surfaces to heavy storms, being prepared is the first step to being safe.

  • Visit a mechanic for a tune-up: checking for leaks, badly worn hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements.
  • Pay special attention to your vehicle’s battery, wipers, coolant, tires and other systems that take a beating as the temperature drops.
  • Cold weather tests the limits of a car's mechanical abilities. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself sliding out of control.

  • Carry items to handle common winter tasks such as a shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
  • Jumper cables, a flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers are helpful.
  • Blankets, warm clothes, a cellphone charger, and extra food and drink can save your life.
  • Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, may help if your car gets stuck in the snow.

  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as ice and snow.

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly, adjusting your speed to account for lower traction on snow or ice.
  • Increase your following distance to five seconds as it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Check the weather along your route and stay connected with family or friends when traveling.
  • Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. However, the road behind an active snowplow is safe to drive on.

  • Stay with your vehicle as it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
  • Be visible by putting bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.
  • Clear the exhaust pipe as it can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the vehicle while the engine is running.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
  • Conserve fuel by running the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill.

The three key elements to safe winter driving are: stay alert, slow down, and stay in control. By being prepared and following a few easy-to-remember safety tips, we’ll help keep Maine’s roads safe this winter.

 If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, call us today for a free and confidential consultation. Our attorneys have helped more than 25,000 injured Mainers get the justice they deserved since 1974.


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