Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

Winter driving conditions have arrived and now is a good time to make sure you are prepared!

Whether you are headed to the mountains for some snow-fun or over the mountains to see loved ones, we want to make sure you are ready for the conditions. Follow these tips and tricks to stay safe on the road this winter.

Winterize Your Vehicle
Regularly check the wipers, tires, lights, and fluid levels (radiator, windshield washer, power steering, oil and brakes). Make sure brakes and transmission are working properly. Your vehicle should also be equipped with a winter emergency kit. The following items are recommended:
  • Ice scraper, snow brush, rags and paper towels.
  • Jumper cables, basic tool kit, antifreeze, and no-freeze windshield washer fluid.
  • Shovel, mats or old rugs for traction, tire chains, salt, sand or kitty litter.
  • Blankets or sleeping bag and extra clothing (e.g. hats, socks, waterproof boots, coat and gloves).
  • Non-perishable, high calorie food.
  • Candles, waterproof matches and metal container such as a coffee can for melting snow.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries, flares or roadway reflectors.
  • Basic first aid kits and fire extinguisher.
Vehicle Operation
Winter driving is often the most difficult driving due to blowing snow, icy slick spots, and fewer daylight hours. When you are on the road you should:
  • Know before you go! Check out the forecast and WSDOT road status before you hit the road.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Be prepared to turn back or seek shelter if conditions become bad.
  • Keep your windows clear of snow and ice. Do not start off until your windshield is defrosted.
  • DRIVE SLOWER and increase your following distance. Do not use cruise control.
  • Roadway conditions may vary widely due to sun, shade, or roadway surface. Watch for slick spots especially on bridges, overpasses, and shaded spots.
  • If the pavement is snow or ice covered, start slowly and brake gently. Begin braking early when you come to an intersection.
  • Be careful after a minor accident. If you do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion the other driver and drive to the nearest police station, 24-hour store, service station, hospital, or fire station.
Stuck or Stranded

If your vehicle breaks down, pull as far off the road as possible. Your greatest personal danger at this point is that of being hit by a passing vehicle. Don't panic. Do not over-exert yourself, especially when shoveling snow or pushing a stalled or stuck vehicle.

If you are stranded on a well traveled road, wait for assistance from police or other emergency service providers. Raise the hood, turn on the dome light and flashers to make your vehicle more noticeable and attach a cloth to the antenna or windows.

Other drivers who see stranded motorists can do them a favor by using a cellphone to call and report the exact location and description of the vehicle.

Back Home

When you return home from a winter trip, wash your vehicle to remove dirt and road salt. A coat of wax will help protect the finish from the effects of salt. Lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing.

Winter Weather on Mercer Island

When ice, snow or freezing fog is expected in Mercer Island, City crews head out and pre-treat known trouble spots on roads and sidewalks with de-icer, which can help prevent slippery conditions.

During snow cycles, City plow trucks clear and sand arterials, critical intersections, and major access routes on and off the Island, followed by secondary and residential streets when time permits.

All residents can help the City keep roadways clear and prevent accidents:

  • Please give snowplow drivers plenty of space and park well away from the road edge
  • Drive cautiously (slow, steady, headlights on, cruise control off, plan well ahead)
  • Consult the City's plowing, sanding, and deicing pages for more information
The City does NOT plow private roads. Find out if you live on one here.

Categories: winter driving
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