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Commuting in winter weather poses an increased risk to driver safety. The National Weather Service reports that each year, on average, 5,000 people are killed and more than 418,000 are injured due to weather-related vehicle crashes. Rain and snow require drivers to take extra precautions to ensure a safe arrival to your destination. Before you head out on the road in these conditions, make sure to follow these Winter Driving Safety Tips to help keep you safe.

San Bernardino County Fire reminds you to be prepared for a disaster with the different countywide alert & warning applications available. During an emergency, you’ll stay up-to date on evacuations, shelter locations, traffic alerts, and emergency resources available in your area.

windshield wipers on ice windshield

Prepare Your Vehicle

  • checkedMake sure all fluid levels are full and ensure that the lights, heater and windshield wipers are in proper condition.
  • checkedKeep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • checkedAvoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
  • checkedCall 511 for the latest traffic/road incidents, construction and weather conditions and restrictions.
  • Mobile phone, charger, batteries
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Large empty can to use as emergency toilet, tissues, toilet paper and paper towels
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.
  • Compass and road maps, don’t depend on mobile devices with limited battery life

On The Road Safety

  • checkedDrive Slowly: Most winter accidents are a result of driving too fast for the current conditions. Remember to slow down on the roads and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
  • crossedDon’t Tailgate: Be sure to leave at least three car lengths in between you and the driver ahead of you during icy or snowy weather conditions. It takes a longer distance to stop your vehicle on winter roads.
  • checkedTurn on Your Headlights: Visibility is greatly hindered in rain, fog, ice, or snow storms so remember to turn on your low beams when in these conditions so other drivers can see you, even during daylight.
  • crossedAvoid Distracted or Drowsy Driving: Limit your distractions while driving in poor weather conditions. Keep your awareness on the road. Never drive when tired and leave the cell phone alone.
  • checkedKeep Up with Your Car Maintenance: Check your windshield wipers, tires, brakes, etc. on a regular basis to avoid a mishap while driving.
  • checkedMake Sure You Can See Out of All Windows: Give yourself extra time before you drive to make sure your windows are defrosted and scraped clean of any ice that is obstructing your vision and ability to be an alert driver.
  • checkedCheck the Roadways and Traffic Ahead of Time: Winter conditions can be somewhat unpredictable so it’s important to check the roadways and traffic before you head out in order to give yourself enough time to safely arrive at your destination. Speeding in poor weather conditions puts other drivers and emergency responders at risk. Check highway conditions at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi
  • checkedAlways Carry Snow Chains: Invest in a set of snow chains for each of your vehicles and carry them in your vehicle, even if it’s not snowing. Practice installing your snow chains away from busy roads and be aware of weather conditions and snow chain speed limits.
  • checkedSlow down at the first sign of rain, especially after a dry spell. This is when many roads are the most slippery, because oil and dust have not washed away. A slippery road will not give your tires the grip they need. Drive more slowly than you would on a dry road.

Adjust your speed as follows:

  • Wet road: go 5 to 10 mph slower
  • Packed snow: reduce your speed by half
  • Ice: slow to a crawl