Some parts of the U.S. have already gotten a taste of winter with some early snow, and as the Thanksgiving Holiday approaches, now is a good time to review some basic winter safe driving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Taking a few precautions ahead of your journey can make the difference between a safe arrival and a costly detour.

Before you go

NTHSA recommends a trip to the service bay for routine maintenance and a vehicle inspection. Critical areas that need attention are tire and brake wear, and paying attention to any leaks or hoses that may be worn or cracked. Also, a quick check at for the latest recall information offers additional peace of mind that your car is ready for the road.

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Your basic checklist should also include a vehicle walk-around to see if all the lights are clean and in good working order, check the windshield wipers for wear and the washer fluid reservoir to make sure it’s full. It would also be a good time to clean and reinstall floor mats. Make sure that the mat doesn’t interfere with the gas or brake pedals.

Stock up and plan your route

Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving-related tasks, such as cleaning off your windshield, as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Keep the following in your vehicle: Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper; abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow;  jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers; blankets; cell phone with charger; water, food, and any necessary medicine.

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Plan your route ahead before you venture out into bad weather. You should check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Above all, don’t rush! Allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely. Plan to leave early if necessary.  Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.

If you get stuck

Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on. To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm. For these and other winter driving tips go to


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