Virginia DOT Offers Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter weather makes Virginia’s highways and byways dangerous. With extreme cold weather systems bringing ice and other hazards to the state’s roads, it’s important for Virginia drivers to be cautious and make good decisions.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has a list of handy tips for driving safely in winter, and drivers can avoid traffic crashes by taking a few simple precautions.

The Virginia DOT recommends the following:

  • Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. Check the tires, brakes, antifreeze/coolant system, battery and ignition, oil levels, signal and other lights, heating, defroster, and exhaust system.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Clear ice, snow, and condensation off mirrors, windows, and lights before driving in winter weather.
  • Lubricate locks to avoid freezing.
  • Be aware of ice-prone roadways, such as bridges, overpasses, and chronically damp and shady areas.
  • Allow extra time to drive to your destination. Do not hurry. Practice defensive driving during snow, sleet, or icy conditions.
  • Start driving in the lowest gear to evaluate road conditions. Driving in low gear can improve traction and cuts the risk of the car slipping, sliding, or spinning out on ice.
  • Make sure your following distance is at least five seconds behind the car in front of you to avoid rear-end auto crashes. Icy or even wet pavement can greatly increase your stopping distance.
  • Keep a winter emergency kit in the car at all times.
  • Do not pass snow removal vehicles on the road.

Driving in ice, snow, sleet, fog, or rain can be both dangerous and frightening. AAA has some additional winter traffic safety pointers for drivers.

  • Avoid driving while fatigued or drowsy. Reaction time increases when you are tired, and winter weather driving can require lightning-fast reflexes to avoid car accidents, patches of ice, and other road dangers.
  • Do not use radial tires mixed with other tires on your vehicle.
  • When warming up the car, do not leave the vehicle parked in an enclosed space because this can cause unsafe carbon monoxide buildup and poisoning.
  • Keep at least a half tank of gas in the vehicle at all times so the gas line does not freeze.
  • Do not use the emergency brake to stop in icy, wet, or wintry weather.
  • Do not use cruise control.