Tips on how to drive in winter weather on Missouri roads

Cold temperatures overnight could cause wet roads to freeze and become slick, the Missouri State Highway Patrol warned

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With cold rain, ice and some snow in the forecast for the St. Louis area this week, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to be careful on roadways.

Cold temperatures overnight could cause wet roads to freeze and become slick, MSHP said in a news release Tuesday.

The agency offered the following tips: 

  • If conditions dictate, avoid driving on Missouri’s roadways. If you must travel, make sure your vehicle is completely clean from snow and ice, use your headlights to increase visibility, and reduce your speed when the roadway appears wet or snow is present. Missouri law states if you’re using your windshield wipers, your headlights must be turned on.
  • Adjust your speed to the weather. Do not use cruise control and increase your following distance. It is next to impossible to stop quickly on snow-covered or slick roads. Allow extra driving time for you to reach your destination at a slow, safe speed.
  • If you choose to travel in inclement weather, keep your fuel tank at least half full. Having an ice scraper, battery booster cables, blankets, extra coats, gloves, water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, flashlight, small shovel and a bag of sand or cat litter in your trunk can help in an emergency. It only takes one traffic crash to close a roadway for several hours. Being prepared is critical.
  • Before you travel, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and keep it with you. Do not use your cell phone when you are driving; park your vehicle well off the roadway or in a parking lot before placing a call. The Missouri State Highway Patrol emergency number is 1-800-525-5555 (or *55 on a cellular phone). These numbers ring at the nearest troop headquarters. 
  • If you are involved in a crash or slide off the roadway, stay inside your vehicle with your seat belt on. During inclement weather, multiple vehicles often crash or slide off the roadway at the same location. If you are walking around your vehicle, the chances of being injured or killed is much greater. The safest course of action is to contact law enforcement by cell phone and remain inside your vehicle. When remaining in your vehicle, place it in park and turn off the engine. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a possibility if the exhaust system was damaged or is blocked by snow or debris after a traffic crash or slide off.
  • There are also health concerns in cold weather conditions: Understand the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and how to prevent them. Create a plan to handle the possibility of becoming stranded. If there are no injuries in the crash, the vehicles should be moved off the roadway to a safer location while waiting for law enforcement to arrive.
  • Winter weather affects driving conditions and traffic patterns. Please remember to buckle up, pay attention, be courteous and obey all traffic laws. When weather conditions make driving hazardous, drive only when absolutely necessary.

Drivers may check road conditions before driving to help determine if the trip can be done safely. Check Missouri’s Road Condition Report by calling 888-275-6636 or check MoDOT’s Road Condition Map online.

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