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Winter Weather Driving Tips

The Missouri Department of Transpiration says driving on snowy or icy roads requires special attention to safety. Although it’s impossible to have ideal road conditions 365 days a year, there are certain precautions you can take to make winter driving safer. Here are some tips and suggestions from MODOT to help you get ready for the hazards of winter.

Before the Trip

Check out road conditions before you go. MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map offers current views of road conditions and is available as an app for iPhones and Android phones.

Call MoDOT’s toll-free customer service center for current road condition information at 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636). The Customer Service Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Winterize your car with fresh antifreeze, a good battery, a properly operating exhaust system and oil that will withstand the rigors of cold weather.

Do a thorough pretrip inspection of your vehicle, paying special attention to your tires, brakes, windshield wipers and windshield wiper fluid.

Equip Your Vehicle With:

  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit 
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap and rain gear
  • A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels
  • A small shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Small tools – pliers, wrench, screwdriver
  • A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Bottled water

During the Trip

  • If possible, postpone your travel until roads have been plowed, treated, and cleared. You don’t want to slide off the road, and we don’t want to plow around disabled vehicles.
  • Slow down and adjust your speed to the conditions.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room, and don’t pass them.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Remember that driving is most dangerous when temperatures are near 32 degrees.
  • Watch for other vehicles having problems with road conditions.
  • Keep mirrors, windows and lights clean; keep your lights on.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles on or near bridges.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable driving, pull off of the highway and park at the first safe place.

If You’re Trapped in Your Car

  • Stay in the vehicle. Don’t leave to search for help. It’s easy to become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the antenna.
  • Run the engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater and turn on the dome light only when the vehicle is running.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a window slightly for ventilation.
  • Clap hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Don’t stay in one position for too long.
  • If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
  • Huddle together for warmth.
  • Use newspapers, maps and even car mats for added insulation.

As temperatures drop this winter, the American Red Cross offers ten steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

1. Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.

2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

3. Remember the three feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.

4. Requires supervision – Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

5. Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.

7. Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

10. Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

For more information on how to stay safe during the cold weather, visit winter storm safety.

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