Winter Driving Safety Tips

Updated May 3, 2024  |   Published January 22, 2024

Approximately one fifth of Massachusetts car accidents happen during the winter. This makes it crucial to practice defensive driving and be more vigilant while on the road during the winter months. Factor in snowy and icy conditions, plus lack of sunlight for much of the day, and your commute to work looks very different than the rest of the year. We’ve put together some tips to help you avoid an accident and stay safe on the roads this season.


Avoid driving in snow or ice when possible

The most important winter driving tip is to avoid driving during winter storms unless it’s necessary. Snow can impact your ability to see the road, as well as your tire traction. Ice can impact your tire traction as well;  the risk of your car spinning out is heightened if the roads aren’t treated  yet. To find out current road conditions, call 511 from your cell phone or any of the following from a cell or landline:

  • Metro Boston: (617) 986-5511
  • Central Mass: (508) 499 -5511
  • Western Mass: (413) 754-5511

Consider taking public transportation

If public transportation is available in your area, that would be your best option if you need to leave the house. It may take longer to get to your destination, but it is  better to be there without the added stress of driving in a snowstorm or icy roads.


Winter driving safety tips

Even if a road is plowed and salted, we recommend that you use extreme caution while operating your car. If you have to drive during a snowstorm or in icy conditions, we recommend you at least avoid driving during the very worst parts of a storm, traveling at night, and traveling alone. Stay on the main roads instead as much as possible as well, as state plows will first focus on plowing main roads, and side roads are the second priority.

Before you head out

  • Clear snow and ice from all areas of your car. Doing the proper preparation to your care before you drive minimizes the risk of a surprise falling from the roof of your car while you’re driving.
  • Check in before you leave and when you arrive. This can help ease anxiety for others, knowing that you got to your destination safely, and can help someone find you if something does happen to you.
  • Allow for extra travel time. Because you’ll be traveling slower than normal, you should factor extra travel and traffic time into your departure and arrival at your destination.

Watch out for winter trouble spots

  • Avoid bridge decks if possible. They freeze first, making them more dangerous than the approach road.
  • Exit ramps sometimes have less anti-ice material than main roads. Be aware of this when exiting the highway.

Practice winter driving safety

  • Brake early and correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in inclement weather, so leave plenty of room for stopping.
  • Don’t let your vehicle make you overconfident. Many 4×4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles, meaning it takes longer to stop.
  • Don’t try to out drive the conditions. Speeding during a snowstorm to get to your destination quicker is never the right thing to do.
  • Don’t use cruise control. Roads that look clear can still have black ice. Using your brakes on icy roads will deactivate cruise control, heightening your risk of losing control of the vehicle.
  • Look further ahead in traffic than normal. After all, it will take you longer than normal to stop.
  • Trucks are heavier than cars. This makes it more difficult to brake.
  • Wear your seatbelt. 
  • Always drive with your headlights on to see and be seen. This will help you stay in your lane and help others to see you and avoid an accident.

Take extra care when driving near plows

  • Drive slowly, and be cautious.  Plows sometimes make sudden stops.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. We recommend maintaining a following distance of at least a couple  of hundred feet. Avoid passing plows on the right.
  • Visibility in front of the plow is often worse. It may be a better idea to remain behind them at a safe following distance so they can clear the snow for you.
  • When passing snow removal equipment, such as a maintenance vehicle or plow, make sure to:
    • Reduce your speed to make a safe merge.
    • The blades of a plow truck extend several feet ahead of the front of the truck, so pull forward more than you usually would before merging.
    • Pass only on the left.
    • Prepare for salt and snow to bounce off your car as you’re passing.


If you do get into a car accident this winter, don’t panic – our agents have your back. We’ve compiled a detailed list of things to do when you get into a car accident.

What to do After a Car Accident