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Winter Driving Tips

car moving down snowy road

It’s winter in Michigan. Plan ahead. Drive defensively. Arrive safe.

Winter in Michigan is unpredictable. Roads can go from snow-covered to icy with downpours to whiteouts. Your best defense is to be prepared.

Weather and road conditions can vary significantly even within a small radius. Here are some helpful winter road travel resources:

Your best defense against wintry road conditions is a cushion of time

  • Keep windows, lights, hood, and roof clear of snow/ ice.
  • Turn on your lights to increase visibility to other motorists.
  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions.
  • Watch the traffic well ahead for extra time to react safely.
  • Use low gears to maintain traction, especially on hills.
  • Keep a safe distance from maintenance vehicles and snowplows – at least 200 feet (it’s the law); don’t pass on the right.
  • Do not cut quickly in front of heavy trucks, which need more time and distance to safely respond.
  • Beware snow ridges between lanes; avoid abrupt changes.
  • Break early and gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. Do not pump anti-lock breaks. Stomp and steer is the correct way.
  • Beware slippery bridge decks, more likely to ice up.
  • Do not use cruise control or overdrive in wintery conditions.
  • Don’t drive at all in adverse conditions if you can avoid it.

Winterize your vehicles for safety and fuel economy. This is also a good time to treat them to a complete checkup.

  • Ignition system
  • Snow tires
  • Fuel system
  • Antifreeze
  • Belts
  • Battery
  • Exhaust system
  • Proper grade oil
  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Fluid levels
  • Defroster
  • Wiper blades
  • Cooling system
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Tire tread and pressure

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