Home > Safety Programs.. > MDOT SHA’s Highway Safety Programs > Survival Skills For Driving In Winter Weather

Drive To Survive In Winter Weather

The State Highway Administration (SHA) realizes the difficulty of driving during the harsh conditions of winter weather. SHA's skilled drivers have years of training and experience in dealing with snow and icy conditions.

Tips in the Event of Snow

  • snow pictureBe sure to buckle up and require your passengers to do the same.
  • When a snow emergency is declared, make every effort to avoid driving or allow extra time to get where you are going. Keep in mind that when roadways are icy or snow covered, you should never expect to drive as you would during clear weather or on dry road surfaces.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles are just as vulnerable to slipping on ice as regular two-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Should your car begin to skid, remember not to panic or slam on your brakes. Take your foot off the gas pedal and immediately steer in the direction of the skid.
  • Increase following distance between your vehicle and others on the road, especially snowplows. Packed snow and ice may create a smooth, glass-like surface beneath your tires making it difficult to control your vehicle.
  • Remember bridges and ramps freeze first and may be especially difficult to navigate.
  • “Don’t Crowd the Plow” – Never pass a snow plow or salt truck especially a plow train! Plow trains are groups of trucks which form a line across the lanes to clear snow. Operators may not see you or your car may get caught on a snow-covered plow edge. In addition, driving will be much easier if you stay at least 25 feet, or three car lengths, behind the snow emergency vehicle.
  • Do not abandon your vehicle. The safest place to wait for help is in your car. If your car breaks down, move your vehicle as far off the roadway as possible and lift the hood. Try to leave a distress signal, such as a scarf, hanging from the window. Please remember, when you abandon your vehicle, it may be subject to towing, ticketing and a fine.
  • Remember, when shoveling snow from your driveway, create a pile away from the roadway. A good rule is to shovel to the right when facing the street. However, keep in mind that the important thing is not to shovel the snow onto an area that will simply be plowed back onto the driveway when the state, county or city snowplows come through.

Things To Check Before Taking The Wheel:

  • Pack a winter driving survival kit – including a shovel, blanket, water, jumper cables, flares, snacks and a flash light.
  • Before taking to the road, log onto www.roads.maryland.gov, click on the CHART icon and view traffic cameras.
  • Obtain a copy of the SHA “Winter Weather Brochure” and keep it in your glove compartment.  Brochures are available at Maryland welcome centers and SHA offices.
  • Check your car's antifreeze, oil, battery, defroster, heater, wipers and washer fluid level.
  • Travel with plenty of gas in the tank.
  • Inspect the tires to be sure there is adequate tread, check air pressure to ensure proper inflation. Use radials or chains during snow emergencies.
  • If you must travel, prepare to leave early and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.

And Finally.

Take time to remove all ice and snow from your car, concentrating on the windows, wipers, mirrors and lights. To reduce the chance of snow flying off your vehicle while driving, remove snow and ice from the front grill, hood and roof. Good visibility is essential for a safe journey. You need to see and be seen by others.