PENNDOT’s message for winter travel is “Don’t Rush in the Ice and Slush.” This phrase was featured for its Paint the Plow event held this fall. Blacklick Valley’s (above) won Fan Favorite.

Around this time of year, travel can be tricky, especially if you are a college student. 

Traveling long-distance with winter road conditions can cause a lot of distress for students and parents that have to come pick their kids up from college. 

If winter weather is in the forecast, it is advised to eliminate all unnecessary travel. This will ensure that you stay safe while helping avoid accidents. However, if travel is necessary, these tips might help ensure safe driving this winter season. 

One tip is to carry a winter emergency travel kit. Having an emergency kit is important in case you get stranded or your car breaks down. Some things that you should include in a winter travel kit are a flashlight, batteries, a blanket, non-perishable snacks, water, gloves, boots and a first-aid kit. Also, load your car with winter travel gear like tire chains, an ice scraper or snowbrush, jumper cables and road flares. This will guarantee that you will be prepared for any situation. 

It is also important to make sure to listen to weather and travel advisories to make sure that you are as informed as possible about road conditions. This will help decide if you should or should not travel on the roads. 

It is also recommended that you keep your gas tank at least half full in case traffic is slow or there is an accident. Making sure that you slow down and increase your following distance is also important. Although it might seem like a no-brainer, many accidents are caused from people not slowing down and following too close.  

Avoiding sudden stops and starts is also imperative since roads might be icy and slick. Being aware of roads that may look wet but are actually frozen is important. This is often referred to as black ice and is highly dangerous because many people are unaware that it is there. The place where black ice is most prevalent is on bridges and ramps. These places are where ice forms first and often without warning. 

Carrying a cellphone is also important when going out in icy conditions. Even if you are just running out quick to grab something, you never know if you might need to call 911 or call for help. Also, do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads. Your vehicle can get out of control easier, making it easier to get in an accident. 

It is also required that you turn on your headlights when your windshield wipers are on, per state law. This ensures that people can see you if they have their wipers on as well. 

Using low beams in particularly bad weather will give you better visibility, especially in cases of dense or gusting snow. Removing ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before driving is imperative, even though it may seem like common sense. Many people are in a hurry to leave and do not want to take the time to fully clean off their vehicles. 

Last but not least, making sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. In case there is an emergency and you need help, people will know where to look for you. 

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