Winter-Driving Safety

Garrett Webber, Reporter

We have entered the heart of winter in North Dakota. If you are from the region, you are no stranger to what winter entails. However, there are many students who are experiencing a North Dakota winter for the first time. This time of the year can bring many wonderful things to the lives of University of North Dakota students, from snow days to hockey games. That said, snowy weather can also bring dangerous road conditions. It is important to keep safety in mind when traveling home or just around campus. Here are a few driving tips to keep us all safe this winter season.  

Be Prepared for the Cold. You never know when you will be a victim of icy roads or snowy conditions. Always keep cold gear in your vehicle. This includes a coat, winter hat, gloves, snowpants, and appropriate footwear. If your vehicle goes into a ditch, depending on where you are, it could be a long time before help arrives. Having clothing to keep you and others warm could prevent frostbite or other harm occurring. Keeping a windshield scraper in your vehicle is also extremely helpful during winter. 

Drive With Caution. Most of what you do with your vehicle should be slower in the winter. Accelerating, decelerating, turning, and every other aspect of winter driving should take longer. Giving your vehicle time to warm up in frigid conditions is better for its engine and battery, as well. Tailgating other vehicles, while always dangerous, is extremely risky in icy conditions. Vehicles take much longer to stop so keeping a healthy distance between your vehicle and others on the road is essential. 

Perform Vehicle Checks. Keeping up with the health and status of your vehicle makes a significant difference this time of the year. For example, frequently checking tire pressure is essential during winter. Freezing conditions cause tires to deflate quicker, and proper tires are key to winter-driving safety. If you notice any new lights on your dashboard, be sure to figure out what the issue is and resolve it, if necessary. Also, be sure to keep at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle. This can be extremely helpful in emergency situations. Checking the status of your windshield wipers and changing, if necessary, will help you when snow is present. 

Communicate With Others. When traveling for long distances, such as driving back home, it is important to let people close to you know your travel plans. Communicate with family members or others when you are leaving and when you plan on arriving. This is a precautionary measure for if there is an emergency and you lose the ability to communicate with others. This could be the difference between life and death in the direst circumstances.  

Be Aware of Conditions. Before you go driving, check the weather for the next few hours. Knowing in advance what conditions you and your vehicle will be dealing with makes everything a lot easier. Additionally, if conditions are too dangerous, rethink whether you need to venture into the cold or not. 

These are just a few safety tips for winter driving. Hopefully, these will help you and everyone on campus have a fun and safe winter season. 


Garrett Webber is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]