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Winter Driving Tips

Preparation is Key

Winter weather can be unpredictable in Illinois, so preparation is a key part to staying safe when traveling. Throughout the winter, especially during adverse conditions, motorists should practice basic winter driving skills and build extra time into their schedules. As part of IDOT’s “Winter Weather – Get it Together” campaign, all travelers are encouraged to follow these simple rules and tips during the winter months:

  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois.
  • Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.
  • Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices – it, too, is the law in Illinois.
  • Don’t crowd the plow. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
  • Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
  • Be especially careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to icing.
  • Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route. Consider taking public transportation if it is an option.
  • Prepare an emergency kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.
  • Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of emergency.
  • Follow Scott’s Law. Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles.
  •  For a list of suggested maintenance for your car, visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s winter driving website.

Before leaving the house, drivers are encouraged to check for continually updated information on winter road conditions, weather radars, road and bridge closures and other traffic-related information. 

This winter, IDOT has more than 1,800 trucks available for deployment to plow more than 17,000 centerline miles of roads statewide, the equivalent of driving from New York City to L.A. and back about three times. Last year, IDOT spread more than 318,600 tons of salt statewide.

Please follow IDOT on Facebook and X (Twitter) for updates on travel throughout the winter.

2023-2024 Winter Weather Get It Together Infographics