Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Winter Driving Tips

Some areas in the Northeast and Midwest are seeing record low temperatures and historic levels of snow. One major road hazard is black ice, which dramatically reduces traction and is virtually invisible.

Black ice forms when the ground temperature causes precipitation to freeze upon impact. The highest-risk areas include driveways, roadways, bridges, overpasses and ramps.


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) offers these tips for driving in ice this season:

  • Carry a winter emergency travel kit.

  • Listen to weather and travel advisories, but if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.

  • Slow down and increase following distance.

  • Avoid sudden stops and starts.

  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice.”

  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning.

  • Carry a cell phone.

  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.

  • State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.

  • Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.

  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as needed.

  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. State law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.

  • Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes.

  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).

  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. In case you run into an emergency and need help, someone will know where to look for you.

  • If you do become stranded, it’s better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.

  • Do not drink and drive, and always wear your seatbelt.

Make sure to download their Winter Driving Guide (PDF).

Find out more information on winter driving on the PennDOT website.