After singing “Let It Snow” through the holiday season, Pennsylvania weather is starting to listen. As the winter season progresses and more snow falls, extra precautions are necessary.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently recognized Winter Driving Awareness Week from January 7 to 13, to encourage the public to take extra steps before getting on the road. Some of what they suggested includes winterizing your vehicle, checking all fluid levels, lights, wiper blades and tires every time before departure, and packing an emergency kit.

Prepping your vehicle

To winterize a vehicle, drivers should have a trusted mechanic check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper belts to ensure proper functionality.

An emergency kit should include the following items:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Water
  • First aid supplies
  • Warm clothing
  • Blankets
  • Cellphone charger
  • Snow shovel
  • Items tailored specifically to your needs (i.e. baby supplies if you have an infant, etc.)

Driving tips

Before driving in winter weather, PennDOT recommends making sure your gas tank is at least half full. State law requires you turn on your headlines any time your wipers are on; use low beams in particularly bad weather.

Drive slowly and increase the distance between you and vehicles you are following. Avoid sudden starts and stops when possible, and be aware of “black ice” causing slippery roads. Drivers should never use cruise control on snow-covered roadways.

The biggest piece of advice they give is to not travel in bad weather if it isn’t necessary. You can keep an eye on current weather and travel advisories on the 511PA website and phone line.

Be safe on the roads and take precautions to ensure your safety as much as possible. You can’t eliminate your risk of getting into an accident, thanks to other drivers, but you can make the roadways safer by following recommended guidelines.