Winter Driving Tips and Travel Preparation from Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol

With winter driving just around the corner, it’s time for everyone to brush up on their winter driving and safety tips. During the non-winter months, we often forget about some of the basic tips and safety procedures of winter driving.

1. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.

• Have working wiper blades

• Fill up on antifreeze and window-washer fluid

• Check for proper tire inflation

• Ensure your battery has sufficient charge

2. Keep an emergency kit ready in your vehicle. It should include:

• A blanket or warm clothes (boots, coat, gloves)

• An LED flashlight

• Jumper cables

• Snow Brush

• Tow strap (no chain)

• Shovel

• Bag of sand or cat litter for traction

• Battery-operated radio

• Map to use in case of a road detour

• Non-perishable snacks that will store well

3. To avoid slipping off the roadway and getting in a crash, drive more slowly and give yourself more room to stop.

• Brake gently to prevent skidding

• Reduce speed in snow, sleet, and rain.

• Use extreme caution when driving down unplowed roads.

• Pull off the road if you’re tired or if outside conditions worsen.

4. If your vehicle does get stuck:

• Never spin your wheels. That only digs the tires in more deeply

• Use a shovel to dig around the wheels and undercarriage

• Turn the steering wheel from side to side to clear snow away from the front tires

• Gently ease the vehicle out

If that doesn't work, try rocking the vehicle by shifting into forward and giving it some gas and then shifting it into reverse and accelerating until the vehicle is free

5. Buckle up.

New York State Law requires that all passengers are buckled regardless of age or seating position.

6. Limit Distractions, winter roads can be treacherous. Your focus needs to remain on driving. Some distractions are:

Cell Phone



Eating or Drinking

Others in vehicle

7. Let other people know your travel plans, as well as telling people the route you plan to take, so if you do not arrive they will know where to start looking.

8. If you find yourself stranded:

• Make sure your vehicle has fresh air by checking the exhaust system to see if it's plugged by snow.

• Stay calm and stay put. Your chances of being rescued are greater if you remain in one place. Staying in your car will decrease your risk of frostbite or hypothermia.

• Run your engine for heat about once an hour (every half hour in extreme cold).

• Tie a piece of brightly colored cloth to your antenna to alert others and aid rescuers.

• Crack your window if you are able to do so, safely.

• Carbon monoxide produced by your vehicle is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill

9. Listen to the radio and check the news for weather reports or visit weather websites or phone apps.

Please note to be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

10. Clear off your vehicle.

• Snow remaining on your vehicle can disrupt your vision and be dangerous to other motorists on the road.