Driving Safely during Idaho Winters

Winter in Idaho can be beautiful, even fun when skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or other winter sports are part of your family’s recreation plans. But traveling on winter roads can be tricky, even treacherous.

The Idaho State Police have the following tips to help keep drivers and their passengers traveling safely during winter driving conditions.

Plan for extra travel time:

Drivers need to SLOW DOWN and ALLOW MORE SPACE between you and the driver in front of you during winter driving conditions.

Slow down well before a stop or a turn to stay in control. Even vehicles with good traction need extra time and space;

Safe winter driving often means traveling less than half the posted speed limit. Just expect your trip will take longer and plan for the extra time;

Know the Conditions:

The Idaho Transportation Department provides daily reports on winter road conditions from November through April. Visit ITD’s online road report at 511.idaho.gov.

The National Weather Service also provides up-to-the-minute weather updates. Go to https://www.weather.gov/ and click on the area of the map where you’re traveling for local forecasts and conditions.

Prepare your Vehicle:

Studded snow tires: Studded tires are legal in Idaho from Oct 1 through April 30. Reminder: While it may be legal to use the tires, motorists are advised to use studded tires only when conditions warrant. Studded tires have small metal cleats embedded in the tread which can cause undue wear on bare roadways.

Clear your windows of ice: Idaho Code 49-612(3) states No vehicle shall be operated when the windshield and/or windows of the vehicle are coated with ice, snow, sleet, or dust to the extent that the driver’s view ahead, or to the sides or rear of the vehicle is obstructed.

Vehicle Maintenance: If a belt is going to break or a battery goes dead, there’s a good chance it’ll happen when the weather turns cold. Before winter sets in, and especially before any trip that takes you out of town, have a mechanic check your vehicle for:

  • leaks;
  • badly worn hoses;
  • check wipers, battery, coolant, and tires are in good condition.

Prepare for your Trip:

Keep emergency winter driving supplies in your car. The kit should include: flashlights with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a pocket knife, blankets, warm clothing including extra mittens, socks, and a wool cap, a small sack of sand or cat litter for generating traction under the wheels, a small shovel, bottled water, booster cables, non-perishable food like canned fruit, nuts and a non-electric can opener, a windshield scraper.

Delay your trip if road conditions are bad. Idaho’s weather often changes quickly, and a few hours can make a difference in safer road conditions.

Snowplows – Give them Space:

 Passing a snowplow is not advised. The Idaho Transportation Department has a complete list of rules to keep drivers safe around snowplows at https://itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce/

These tips were compiled using several sources including AAA, the NHTSA, and the Idaho Transportation Department.

For more winter driving safety tips, go to:


#DriveWellIdaho !


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