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Old Man Winter is on his way and you know what that means — snow, ice, freezing rain and cold. It’s important to prepare for the next several months in order to protect yourself and your family, particularly while on the road. Check out these 10 winter driving safety tips.

1. Winter Survival Kit

Portland, Oregon Emergency Kit

Make a winter survival kit. Several resources including ODOT, Weather.com and several safety experts advise Oregon drivers to keep the following items in your car this winter:

  • blanket
  • shovel
  • flashlight
  • matches
  • hand warmers
  • bottled water
  • protein bars
  • syphon pump
  • whistle
  • flares

In addition to these items, make sure your cell phone is fully charged at all times so you can call for help if you need it. Also make sure you have a phone charger for your car and possibly an additional portable phone charger in case your car battery dies.

2. Become A Member

Portland Repair & Towing
Get a membership to an automobile association like AAA. This way, you can call for a tow or other assistance if you run out of gas, have a technical problem, skid off the side of the road or lock your keys out of the car. Luckily for most Oregonians living in the Willamette Valley we don’t get a lot of snow. However the rest of the state (excluding the coast) gets a fair amount of snow and its important to be able to get a tow or other road side service in a pinch.

3. Don’t Stop On Hills In Snow

Winter Driving Portland, Oregon
In the snow, avoid stopping on your way up a hill. If you can, build up inertia on a flat surface before tackling any hill. If you can’t do that, take a different route to avoid slipping back down the hill on ice.

4. Keep A Half Tank of Gas

Portland Auto Repair
Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times so your gas line doesn’t freeze, says AAA. This is also advisable if you plan on going out in the snow and need to keep your car running while you’re not driving it. If you pop a tire, you will want the warmth of a running engine while you wait for a tow truck.

5. Accelerate Slowly

Portland, Oregon Driving Safety Tips for Winter
In the snow, heavy raining or icy conditions accelerate slowly to maintain optimal traction while avoiding skids at the same time. Same goes for decelerating. Don’t rush, and take the time to come to a slow stop at stop signs and lights. When you get moving again, press down lightly on the gas and accelerate at a slow pace.

6. Don’t Floor It

Oregon Winter Driving Tips
Don’t punch the gas to go up a hill. You may think this will power you up the steep incline, but this will only serve to spin your wheels when attempting this on snow and ice. Every year in Portland we get a little snow, and every year we see videos on the news of people skidding backward down hills and crashing into peoples yards. Don’t be that person.

7. Increase Your Following Distance

Driving In The Snow
Increase your following distance. If you normally allow three to four seconds between your car and the one in front of you in dry conditions, increase that margin of error to up to 10 seconds. This will allow you to stop properly in inclement weather.

8. Avoid Cruise Control

Portland, Oregon Auto Accident Repair
Avoid the use of cruise control or your parking break while driving when it’s icy out. Of course you should always use your parking break when parked especially in snow and ice. Also make sure if you are parked on a hill you turn your wheels to pin your car against the curb so that your car doesn’t go rolling out into the road.

9. If Stranded, Stay With Your Vehicle

Winter Driving Safety
When stranded in a snow storm, stay with your vehicle. Don’t go off to get help because you will lose the only shelter you had. This is where the cell phone comes in handy. Call for help and try to be as specific as possible as to your location.

10. Stay Home If Possible

Winter Driving Tips
Stay home if possible. This is the best piece of advice for those who have the option of staying home in wintry weather. Unless you are an emergency worker, there is no need to be out on the roadways, so stay home and enjoy a cup of cocoa with the kids in front of a warm fire!

We hope you found this information to be helpful. Please give us a call if you end up needing any vehicle repairs this winter. We have Back To Top and are glad to help with any auto repair needs you have. If you would like to get a jump on the bad weather we recommend having some maintenance done before the weather gets bad. Have your fluids checked, replace any bad windshield wipers and check your tire pressure.

By Matt Stewart