During winter months, driving conditions can quickly change depending on the weather.
To help Hoosier motorists prepare for the upcoming winter driving season, the Indiana State Police recently offered some safety tips.
A big part of safety is being prepared before the day of the trip.
Before traveling, motorists are urged to frequently check the weather forecast and advise someone about their travel route in case of emergency.
Keep the vehicle's gas tank full, if possible, and check other vital fluids and tire pressure before traveling long distances. (It would also be a good idea to check the car battery if it hasn't been changed recently.)
Icy roadways and deep snow can lead to motorists being stranded by weather conditions, so don't forget to prepare in advance in case there is an unexpected stop along the way.
Because a car is the best protection for motorists when stranded, a winter driving kit is a necessity. It should include blankets, at least one working flashlight and extra batteries, a brightly colored cloth to tie onto the vehicle's antenna (in case you need help), sand (or cat litter), shovel, a package of emergency candles and matches, non-perishable high calorie food and several bottles of water, a first aid kit, jumper cables and a working cell phone with a vehicle adaptable battery charger.
If planning to travel with children, try to include reading or coloring materials for their (and your's) entertainment while waiting.
On the day of travel, check the weather forecast and pay special attention to its impact on future road conditions and allow extra travel time to ensure a safe arrival at your destination.
Visibility is important on dreary winter days for both the driver and other motorists. Officials urge motorists stop periodically to clear the build up ice and snow on vehicle's windows and remove snow from the hood, roof, headlights and taillights.
Use low beam headlights to decrease glare from ice.
Drivers are urged to use patience and pay attention to their surroundings.
Slow down to increase traction and don't use cruise control on while driving on slick roads. Avoid abrupt stops and starts, slow down gradually and keep wheels turning to avoid losing traction.
Pay attention while driving around bridges, underpasses, shaded areas and intersections where ice is slow to melt have the potential to create dangerous conditions.
Should a motorist become stranded for whatever reason, officials advise they don't leave the car to search for help because it's the best protection you have against the elements.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the vehicle's antenna if you need help and keep the exhaust pipe free of blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Roll down your window a small amount for fresh air and don't panic, an idling car uses only one gallon of gas per hour.
For information about Indiana road conditions between Dec. 1-March 31, call 800-261-7623 or visit the Indiana State Police website at www.in.gov/isp.