Use #MAsnow on Twitter for updates on a snow storm’s progress through Massachusetts.
With winter weather looming on the horizon, Massachusetts residents need to stay safe on the roads. There are a number of ways to keep motorists and their passengers safe during inclement weather, and preparing for these events – in addition to remaining alert when they occur – can reduce the chances of being in an accident.
Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather
Driving during the winter – at times on icy roads and highways, and during snowstorms – can be dangerous, though necessary for many living in the Commonwealth. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), close to 70 percent of all winter-weather related deaths occur as the result of automobile accidents. Following these tips to ensure safe winter driving can reduce your chance of a fender bender (or worse):
- Replace tires before winter weather settles in to ensure traction is at its best;
- Have a winter emergency car kit – which should include items such as a first aid kit, non-perishable foods, jumper cables, water, and extra clothing – so you and your passengers can remain relatively comfortable until help arrives;
- Make sure your gas tank is no less than half-full at all times (this will keep the car running in the event of bitter cold); and,
- Ensure all other vehicle fluids are at acceptable levels.
Properly Handle Winter Conditions
Even if a driver is prepared for slippery roads and reduced visibility, he or she still needs to practice safe driving. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation – Highway Division (MassDOT) recommends the following safe winter driving tips:
- Brush off all snow and ice on your car before driving: lights, windshields, and mirrors should provide clear visibility;
- Speed limits are the maximum speed recommended under optimal conditions. During a storm, weather and road conditions can change quickly, so slow down as warranted by the situation;
- Respect other drivers. Keep a comfortable distance from other motorists in case they lose control;
- EOPSS also suggests motorists avoid driving in poor conditions, if possible. If this winter driving safety tip cannot be followed, ensure that travel is short; and,
- Motorists should dial 911 if their vehicle breaks down or if they are stranded while driving during a storm for any reason.
More Winter Road Safety Resources
- MassDOT provides up-to-date traffic advisories to keep travelers aware of current road conditions.
- Drivers can also dial 511 from their cellphone before getting behind the wheel to take advantage of the Mass511 traffic hotline, which provides real-time updates.
- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also offers detailed information on how weather events impact roads.
- Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a checklist of winter driving tips.
Being careful on winter roads is important for Massachusetts drivers, and taking time to prepare for anything Jack Frost throws your way will put you in a better position to navigate the Commonwealth’s snow-covered streets safely.
Share your tips for driving in winter weather with us by commenting below, or tweet us @MassGov.
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