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Winter Vehicle Safety


Winter Weather Vehicle Safety Kit


Winter Weather Vehicle Safety Kit

Winter Weather Vehicle Safety Kit

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), most winter storm-related deaths are caused by vehicle accidents due to ice and snow. Indiana does not experience large winter storms every year, but it only takes a little ice or snow to make driving conditions hazardous. Getting your vehicle prepared before winter weather conditions occur will help make winter traveling safer and less stressful.

Winter Vehicle Safety Tips

  • Winter Driving
    Vehicles in heavy snow

    Snowy and icy roadways during winter weather is a challenge even for the most experienced drivers. Before leaving home, check local news weather reports and the Indiana county travel status map for current travel conditions. As you drive on roadways, make sure you:

    • Drive below the posted speed limit and leave plenty of space between other vehicles.
    • Stay attentive and reduce speeds during times of limited visibility.
    • Do not tailgate or try to pass snowplows.
    • Allow for more braking time on slick and snowy roads.
    • Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps and bridges in case of black ice.
    • Share your planned destination, route and expected arrival time with someone.
    • Keep windows, mirrors, headlights, taillights and brake lights clear of snow and ice.
  • Vehicle Emergency Kit
    Emergency kit items

    Always keep an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes the following items:

    • Cat litter or a bag of sand (for better tire traction)
    • Extra blankets or a sleeping bag
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Ice scraper and snow brush
    • Jumper cables
    • Non-perishable food
    • Portable phone charger
    • Shovel
    • Spare clothes, mittens, scarves and hats
    • Water
  • Mechanic's Checklist
    Mechanic holding a part under car hood

    It is important that your vehicle receives proper maintenance before winter weather arrives. Get your vehicle prepared for winter weather by having a mechanic inspect:

    • Antifreeze levels
    • Battery
    • Belts and hoses
    • Brakes
    • Defroster
    • Headlights, taillights and hazard lights
    • Heater
    • Oil
    • Tires
    • Windshield wipers
  • If Stranded
    Car in snow on the side of road

    Getting stranded is a possibility when deciding to travel during winter weather conditions. Besides using a phone to call for help, such as Hoosier Helpers if you are stuck along an interstate highway, follow these tips while you wait for rescue.

    • Do not leave your vehicle. It protects you from harsh weather conditions, and you could become disoriented in the wind and snow. Only leave the vehicle if help is visible within about 100 yards (the length of a football field).
    • Run the vehicle for about five minutes every half hour for heat. Keep in mind that your vehicle only uses about one gallon of gasoline per hour while idling.
    • While running the vehicle for heat, open a window a little to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Likewise, make sure there is no snow blocking the exhaust pipe.
    • Tie a brightly colored cloth to your radio antenna or door to help rescuers see you.
    • When it is not snowing, raise the hood of your vehicle to show you need help.
    • Turn on the dome light at night while the vehicle is running. It may help rescuers find your vehicle in the dark.

Resources

CARS Traffic Map (Indiana Department of Transportation)
INDOT Weather Stations (Indiana Department of Transportation) 
Winter Driving Safety Tips (Indiana Department of Transportation)
Winter Driving Tips (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Winter Storms (IDHS) 
Winter Weather (Ready.gov)

Travel Advisories and Winter Weather

Map of Indiana counties
Indiana County Travel Status Map
Map of Indiana counties
Indiana County Travel Status Map
Map of Indiana counties
Indiana County Travel Status Map

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) hosts the statewide county travel status map. Counties decide whether to issue travel advisories, watches or warnings, and the SEOC produces advanced weather summaries and assessments from its Watch Desk to inform county emergency management agency directors, who advise their county commissioners on making these local travel status decisions. When a county emergency management agency reports its county's updated travel status to the state, the change is reflected on the map.

Many state agencies, private sector partners and non-governmental organizations rely on the map to make safe decisions, especially during winter weather conditions. For example, the Indiana National Guard uses the map during times of flooding or heavy snow to help plan its routes through the state.

In 2020, the map was also used by county emergency management agencies to bring awareness to residents of COVID-19 cases in their area.