Know before you go: Winter weather driving tips, what to keep in your car

With colder weather and mountain snow hitting the region, drivers must once again start thinking about winter driving and road safety. 

AAA suggested all drivers keep a winter driver kit in their car. The kit would include a cellphone with a charger and emergency contacts. Road flares, jumper cables and flashlights with extra batteries should also be added to the kit.

Before you hit the road: 

What you need to have in your car, particularly if you're going through mountain areas:

  • As temperatures drop, so will your tire pressure. AAA recommends checking tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare.
  • Carry an emergency road kit in case your car breaks down.
  • Have a sturdy ice scraper and brush
  • Keep an extra pair of gloves, hats and blankets in the car.
  • Keep a small shovel handy in case you need to dig yourself out.
  • It's also helpful to keep a first aid kit and extra water in the car.
  • Keep cat litter or sand in the trunk to help with traction if you get stuck.

On the road: 

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
  • Give yourself plenty of space from the cars in front of you in case you need to brake quickly.
  • Drive for the conditions.
  • During snow or other low-visibility winter driving conditions, drive with your low-beam headlights on to make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Don't put extra pressure on the gas when going up a hill-- the snow on your tires will just make the wheels spin. Instead, get your inertia from the flat part of the road before the hill.
  • If you start to fishtail, steer in the direction of the skid so when your wheels regain traction, you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane
  • Do not use cruise control.

If you get stuck in the snow (from AAA):

  • Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
  • Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
  • Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.
  • Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.