winter driving

Chicago Weather: How to Drive Safely in Snow and Ice

The Illinois Department of Transportation offers tips to keep you safe in snowy, cold and icy conditions

Wintry weather on a road
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Parts of the Chicago area could see more than a foot of snow as a major blast of winter weather hits the region again starting Monday.

When bad weather hits, it's always best to stay off the roads. If you don't have a choice, the Illinois Department of Transportation has important information to keep you safe.

IDOT recommends that drivers:

  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois.
  • Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.
  • Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
  • Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
  • Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to icing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route. Consider taking public transportation if it is an option.
  • Prepare an emergency kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency.
  • Follow Scott’s Law. Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles.

AAA released similar precautions and considerations for snowy conditions. AAA recommends that drivers:

  • Drive slowly
  • Increase your following distance by five or six seconds
  • Apply firm, steady pressure on your brake
  • Don't use cruise control

When roads are icy, AAA recommends:

  • Be careful on bridges and overpasses, they freeze before the road
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes
  • Drive, turn, and brake slowly
  • During a skid, keep your eyes on the road, and don't slam on the brakes

Any time you're driving in cold temperatures, AAA recommends keeping warm clothing, food and water in your car. Drivers should also keep tires properly inflated and maintain at least a half tank of gas.

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