It happens every year, so you should know the drill on how to be ready for a safe winter’s drive.

Still, PennDOT has some reminders.

“By preparing for winter weather now and making smart decisions about travel when storms are approaching, the public can help make this winter a safe one,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said.

Preparations should include an emergency kit with such items as nonperishable food, water, first-aid items, warm clothes, a blanket, a cellphone charger and a small snow shovel.

Drivers should also make sure their vehicle is ready for subfreezing temperatures, snow, ice and other winter hazards.

Monday’s frost across Lower Bucks was a reminder that winter is not that far away.

Winter driving is very tough on a vehicle, so make sure the engine oil is changed, the cooling system serviced and that heater and radiator hoses are in good condition, the agency said.

Have the battery checked. The average battery life today is about four years, car experts say. Check or change the transmission fluid as recommended by the car manufacturer.

Tires also are very important in snow and ice. Make sure the tread is good and the sidewalls are not dry rotted. The sun destroys rubber, and tires are no exception. Clean the vehicle, especially windows, so you can see where you’re going and, if possible, wax the car to help protect the paint from road salt.

When motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase the following distance from other vehicles and avoid distractions, such as texting and using electronic devices, PennDOT explained.

Last winter, 552 crashes, which resulted in four fatalities and 279 injuries on Pennsylvania snow-covered roads, were caused by aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding or making careless lane changes, according to PennDOT.

When it does snow, PennDOT’s primary focus is to clear interstates and expressways, such as Interstate 95 and Interstate 276.

The more traffic a road has, the more attention it will get, so motorists may find deeper snow on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for such conditions.

Drivers can check road conditions by visiting, which is free and available 24-7.

“PennDOT’s staff and equipment are working hard to be ready for winter’s arrival, and drivers are a huge part of our missions to keep roads as safe as possible this winter,” said Richards.

That’s why about 67,000 tons of road salt are on hand and more deliveries are pending, Richards said. Last year, 1.2 million tons of salt were used on the 40,000 miles of state-maintained roads.

by George Mattar via