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Everybody loves walking in a winter wonderland, but driving in one is not so wonderful. Driving on snow and ice can be incredibly dangerous, but there are practical things you can do to ensure both your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Making a List, Checking it Twice.

The first step is to be prepared. During these crazy Nebraska winters, you don’t always know how the weather will change, and the last thing you want is to end up stranded out in the cold. So make sure you are prepared for the various obstacles weather can bring. Here are some items we recommend keeping in your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Emergency lights/flare
  • Sand/cat litter (to give your tires some traction)
  • Tire chains (if you are planning to drive through heavy snow)

Drive Slowly and Smoothly

Because of the unpredictability of winter driving, it is so important to be extra cautious as you hop on I-80 to visit family in Omaha or just drive down the street to get yourself a Runza. Driving a little slower, giving some extra space between you and the car in front of you, and keeping your eyes further down the road are all great ways to be a safer winter driver. It is also important not to make sudden moves but rather slower adjustments. Turning slowly and braking gradually allows you to keep from slipping, sliding, or even losing control of your car.

Know Your Car

Inspect your car before going out in the snow to ensure it is ready to handle the harsh winter conditions. First, check your tailpipe. Snow and ice can clog up in the tailpipe, causing carbon monoxide gas to build up, which can be incredibly dangerous. Next, take a look at your tires. Your tires’ ability to grip has a significant impact on your ability to handle ice or snow. The best way to test your tires’ grip is to find an empty parking lot and practice your winter driving to feel out how your car handles the icy/snowy conditions. If you are slipping and sliding often, you may want to buy winter tires for better traction (and if you do decide to buy winter tires, it is important to buy them for all four tires, not just one or two). It is also essential to understand while All-Wheel Drive features are great for accelerating, they don’t guarantee better traction or safety when braking.