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Some years it seems like Wisconsin has two seasons: Winter and Winter. As much as most people would like to just curl up on the couch when it gets cold, that usually isn’t an option and we need to venture out on the road during the season. Here are seven tips to help keep you safe while driving this winter.

  1. Safety First: Avoid driving when roads are treacherous
  2. Clear it Before You Go: Remove ice and snow from windows, lights and mirrors
  3. Accelerate and decelerate slowly: Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t speed up fast and make sure you give yourself time and space when slowing down for a stoplight. It takes much longer to slow down on icy roads. 
  4. Stay Focused: distractions can wait (put down your phone!)
  5. You Cruise, You Lose: Avoid cruise control in winter conditions
  6. Keep your distance: Stay 200 feet behind snowplows and stop safely
  7. Make Sure Your Car is Prepared:
    • Full tank of gas
    • Ice scraper
    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlight
    • First aid kit
    • Cellphone charger
    • Boots, gloves and blanket
    • Water/snacks

The very best advice is to just be prepared before heading out. However, if you find yourself stuck in the snow or bad weather:

  • Stay With Your Vehicle: Your vehicle can give you shelter and makes it easier for people to find you. You don’t want to go walking in a storm as you may lose your way or sight of the car. 
  • Don’t Over Do It: If you are digging out your vehicle, takes breaks so you don’t get too tired.
  • Make Sure You Can Be Seen: Try to find something bright in your car that you can tie to the antenna or roll up in your window. Keep the dome light on if you can. 
  • Make Sure the Exhaust Pipe is Clear: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not full of snow, ice or mud. If it is blocked it could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the car while the engine is on. 
  • Keep Warm: Find whatever you can in your vehicle to insulate your body from the cold. It’s always a good idea to have blankets and heavy clothing in your car just in case.
  • Conserve Fuel: If you can, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. 

If you would like more information, check out the Wisconsin DOT website.