Winter may finally be arriving in the Treasure Valley. It's a
good time to review Winter Driving Safety!
These tips on Winter Driving Safety, are courtesy of the Idaho
Winter driving calls for special skills.
On slippery roads, the keys to safety areslower speeds, gentler
stops and turns, and longer following distances.
Here are some safe-driving tips
that will help you when roads are slick with ice or
• Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. The
lights, tires, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, and radiator
are especially important for winter driving.
• Keep your windows clear. Don't start driving until the windows
are defrosted and clean-even if you're going only a short distance.
your windshield washer reservoir filled with a non-freezing
solution all winter.
• For safety reasons, you should not use cruise control if the
road is wet and/or icy.
•Buckle up. All occupants are required to wear safety belts
and/or shoulder straps when riding in a vehicle equipped with
• Get the feel of the road by starting out slowly and testing
your steering control and braking ability. Avoid spinning your
tires when you start by
gently pressing your gas pedal until the car starts to roll. Start
slowing your car down at least three times sooner than you normally
turning or stopping.
• When stopping, avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel
and pump the brake gently. (Check your vehicle owner's manual; if
vehicle has anti-lock brakes, you may apply steady pressure to the
• Use tire chains on very slippery roads. (Some states require
chains to be carried during winter months; check for specific
driving in other states.)
• Be aware of potential icy areas such as shady spots, bridges,
and overpasses. Ice may form sooner or remain on bridges and
longer, since they are exposed on their undersides and are
deprived of ground warmth. Snow and ice also stay longer in shaded
• Studded snow tires may be used only from October 1 to April
30. Some years, the Idaho Transportation Department adjusts the
dates due to
Use extra caution when encountering snow
removal equipment; snowplow blades force snow up and off the road,
potentially causing blizzard-like
conditions and reduced visibility for drivers following too
Use caution when driving in winter
conditions, and cooperate with highway workers clearing the
Drivers should follow these additional
tips for safe winter driving:
• Remain two car lengths behind snowplow trucks for every 10 mph
you drive. Sand being spread by trucks can damage your vehicle.
• Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary.
• If you must pass, do so only when you can clearly see the road
ahead. Do not pass on the side where the plow is spraying snow. If
you do, the
snow's force can knock your car out of control. Do not cut back
immediately in front of a snowplow truck. The plow blades are often
covered with snow and can be difficult to see.
• Do not brake suddenly if you are traveling in front of a
snowplow. The heavy vehicle cannot stop as quickly as your
• Do not abandon your car unless it is absolutely necessary. If
you must, leave it as far off the road as possible. Abandoned cars
with the road clearing process and can be extremely hazardous to
snow removal equipment and the operators if they are hidden or
Getting Stranded During Winter
Idaho winters can be severe,
particularly in the mountains. When traveling in winter months, be
prepared in case your vehicle breaks down
or you get into an accident. You should keep an emergency winter
driving kit in your car.
The kit should include:
• flashlights with extra batteries
• a first aid kit
• a pocket knife
• at least one blanket or sleeping bag
• an extra set of gloves
• socks and a wool cap
• a small sack of sand or cat litter for generating traction
under the wheels
• a small shovel
• bottled water
• booster cables
• emergency flares
• energy bars or other non-perishable food items
• a brightly-colored scarf to attract attention in case of an
• waterproof matches or cigarette lighter
• a map of the area where you plan to travel.
If you run your car for heat, make sure
your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. If available, tie a scarf or
bright cloth on the car antennae for snow
crews to see.
Let someone know your travel plans,
including estimated departure and arrival times, route, and where
you will stay when you reach your
Be courteous and call those who may be
worried when you arrive at your destination. Keep in contact. If
you have a cell phone,
make sure it is charged, and carry a list of emergency phone
If you get stranded, stay with your
vehicle if heavy snow is falling. Most deaths occur when people
leave their car, get lost, and freeze.
In case of medical emergencies in areas
where roads have not been plowed, call the local or state police.
These agencies will work with search and rescue personnel and the
Idaho Transportation Department to respond to emergencies.
Idaho's 511 Traveler
For travel information, dial "511" or go to www.511.idaho.gov
for up-to-date information on:
• weather-related road conditions
• traffic incidents and delays
• emergency road closures