Ask The Expert: Winter Driving Safety

Ask the Expert
Michael S. Taluto, Safety Press Officer
PennDOT District 4
(570) 963-3502

 head-shotFrom the time that first flake of snow hits the ground, a reminder of safe winter driving practices could potentially help save a life. That’s where Michael S. Taluto of PennDOT District 4 comes in. One major caveat, according to PennDOT, is that if a driver doesn’t need to be out, he or she should stay home in order to clear the roadways for first responders and plow trucks. Some drivers don’t know that PennDOT has a website,, which provides motorists color-coded winter conditions on state roadways.  This month, Taluto is sharing some tips on how to stay safe on the road this winter.

  • Follow PennDOT’s winter vehicle preparedness checklist. Your vehicle should have a flashlight, extra batteries, blanket, non-perishable food, water, gloves, boots, a first aid kit, cell phones, tire chains, an ice scraper or snowbrush, jumper cables and flares or a warning  triangle. You should also have kitty litter or sand to help with traction, as well as chains or anything else you might need to accommodate family traveling, such as special medications, baby supplies or pet food.
  • Check your levels. Check all fluid levels, lights and wiper blades before the winter driving season gets fully underway.  Tires should be examined often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire tread depth to perform on ice and snow.

When winter weather is happening, PennDOT asks drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment.  When drivers encounter a plow truck, they should do the following:

  • Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much slower than other traffic.
  • When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
  • Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side-by-side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, which creates a hazard for nearby vehicles.
  • Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle.  Remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.

For additional information on winter traveling check out the PennDOT website at www.