“Weather” we like it or not, winter is coming.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee is urging New Yorkers to get their vehicles ready for winter, and to familiarize themselves with safe winter driving tips in anticipation of snow and icy road conditions.
The agencies also reminded motorists that, beginning October 16, they can install snow tires with metal studs on their vehicles.
Under New York State law, these tires may only be used from October 16 through April 30.
DMV and the GTSC recommend the following tips for winter driving:
- Do not drive during ice or snow storms unless it is absolutely necessary.
- If you must drive, first clear the ice and snow from your vehicle. This includes the headlights and taillights, the windshield wipers, and all the windows. Under New York State law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with anything that obstructs the driver’s view. Additionally, license plates must be visible, headlights should provide adequate illumination, and all lights should be visible to other motorists.
- Allow your defrosters time to work before driving so you can see.
- Turn on your headlights when you turn on your windshield wipers. New York State law makes this mandatory.
- Drive slowly. Even if your vehicle has good traction in ice and snow, you must be prepared to react if other drivers start to slide.
- When sleet, freezing rain or snow begin to fall, remember that bridges, ramps and overpasses will freeze first. Be aware that slippery spots may remain after snow is removed.
Stock your vehicle with:
- Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper;
- Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow;
- Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and markers;
- Blankets for protection from the cold;
- A cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers the following tips for preparing vehicles for cold weather:
- Get your car serviced ahead of time. Visit your mechanic for routine and preventive maintenance.
- Check your battery. When the temperature drops, so does battery power. Have your mechanic check for sufficient voltage.
- Check your cooling system. When coolant freezes, it expands. Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it’s designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area.
- Fill your windshield washer reservoir and keep some extra on hand in your vehicle. You can go through a lot of windshield wiper fluid quickly in a single snowstorm.
- Check your windshield wipers and defrosters. Make sure your windshield wipers work and replace worn blades. Check to see that your window defrosters (front and rear) work properly.
- Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference. Incorrect or improperly installed floor mats may interfere with the operation of the accelerator or brake pedal, increasing the risk of a crash.
- Inspect your tires. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle and check pressure when tires are “cold,” meaning they haven’t been driven on for at least three hours. Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread.
Before traveling, motorists should check 511NY, a free travel information system accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 511 or visiting www.511NY.org.
The 511NY website provides a winter travel advisory system, with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed.