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Idaho winters may create snowy landscapes and fun outdoor activities, but it’s crucial to recognize the inherent dangers of driving in these conditions. While winter’s beauty is undeniable, the roads become a challenging terrain, demanding heightened vigilance and extreme care. Explore essential tips and insights to help navigate safe winter driving to enjoy the season.

Here are some critical steps to consider:

  • Plan ahead – Don’t drive impaired.
  • Arrange for a safe and sober ride home in advance.
  • Seek an alternative mode of transportation if you consume any impairing substances.
  • If someone is impaired, do not allow them to take the wheel.
  • Always wear a seat belt, as it is your primary defense against impaired drivers.

As winter weather is unpredictable and treacherous, drivers should prepare for adverse conditions. Statewide, more than 16,000 accidents occurred during inclement weather between October 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, with many attributed to unsafe driving in snow, ice, and wet conditions.

When traveling, let others know your plans – especially if driving through areas without cell service – and check in on arrival. Make safe winter driving a habit:

Adjust your driving to handle changing conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and drive at a safe pace.
  • Avoid driving into a storm; find a safe place off the road and wait.
  • Stay in your vehicle until visibility improves, even if an accident occurs.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Exercise caution around stopped or slow-moving vehicles.
  • Only pass or change lanes when necessary.

Prepare your vehicle:

  • Ensure you have a full tank of gas and windshield washer fluid.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-season or studded snow tires.
  • Carry chains, a tow rope, cat litter, or cardboard for emergency traction.
  • Have a blanket, warm clothing, shovel, jumper cables, and a windshield scraper on hand.
  • Prepare a first aid kit with a knife, flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, and cell phone charger.

Avoid distractions:

  • Stay focused on the road and remain vigilant for potential road hazards like animals and trees.
  • Take necessary breaks to combat fatigue.
  • Be mindful of hidden dangers like icy overpasses and bridges, open ground blizzards, hills, stoplights, signs, and ruts that may collect water.

Every year, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) deploys over 550 snowplow operators to clear over 3.4 million miles throughout Idaho. Ensure their safety:

Give snowplows ample space to work:

  • The best roadway is a safe distance behind a working plow.
  • Never pass on the right.

Know before you go:

  • Check the weather forecast before embarking on your journey.
  • Stay informed about Idaho Department of Transportation (IDT) winter road conditions at and monitor National Weather Service updates at
ver: 3.5.2a | last updated:
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