Winter is just around the corner, which means it’s time for drivers to prepare for potentially dangerous driving conditions. Though most Nebraskans are no strangers to slick roads, ice and snow make every driver susceptible to getting into an accident. According to NewsNetNebraska, Nebraska is one of the worst states for icy roads. From 2009-2010, Nebraska had the second most fatalities due to icy roads, only second to Pennsylvania. Additionally, poor weather conditions, including snow and ice, are present in 20 percent of fatal highway crashes and 28 percent of non-fatal highway crashes.

So what can drivers do to prepare for the upcoming winter season? We put together a list of some precautionary steps to take before winter arrives to ensure you’re equipped to handle dangerous road conditions:

  • Know your vehicle. The first step in preparing for winter road conditions is understanding your vehicle. This may seem silly because everyone “knows their car,” but many drivers are unaware of certain features that are specifically designed to prevent issues in hazardous weather. Check your vehicle’s driver’s manual or visit a professional to learn about:
    • Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS)
    • All Wheel Drive (AWD) vs. 4 Wheel Drive (4WD)
    • Electronic Stability Systems
    • Ground clearance
    • Heated seats/mirrors/steering wheel
    • Traction control
    • Windshield wiper features
  • Have your vehicle inspected before winter hits. Mechanical problems are the last thing anyone wants for their vehicle, especially on a cold, snowy day. Before we jump into the winter season, take your car to a mechanic to make sure everything is in proper working condition. A professional should pay special attention to these items:
    • Battery
    • Brakes
    • Oil level
    • Headlights
    • Tire tread and pressure
    • Antifreeze
    • Windshield wipers and fluids
    • Exhaust system
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit (more than just a first aid kit) in your vehicle all year long, but it’s especially crucial during the winter months. This should include:
    • Blankets
    • Warm clothing
    • Flashlight/batteries
    • Phone charger
    • Food/water
    • Ice scrapers
    • Road flares/cones
    • A bright colored scarf or cloth (to tie to your vehicle to signal you need assistance)

The best way to avoid trouble on the roads during the winter is to go into the season fully prepared. The most important thing you can do is not procrastinate because an accident in sub-zero weather is much more troubling than one during the spring or summer. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll provide tips and tricks for staying safe behind the wheel this winter!