With winter weather returning to Michigan, it’s the time of year to brush up on winter driving safety and prepare your vehicle for time out in the snow and ice. Let’s drive into some tips for how to stay safe during the winter season.

Some of the things you can do to help yourself when it comes to winter driving are preparedness actions you can take before you hit the roads in a snowstorm. Getting your car checked out by a mechanic at the beginning of the winter season is important to make sure it’s in working order. It’s important to have these things looked at:

  • Battery
  • Ignition
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Wipers
  • Fluid levels

Besides checking the components of the car, getting winter tires is also a great way to improve safety while driving, as they provide better traction. According to the Michigan State Police, winter tires allow you to stop up to 50% faster on ice and snow, making them a fantastic, lifesaving investment.

Other than the car components themselves, what you pack your car with is important, especially for long distance winter driving. Here’s a few things that can get you started:

  • A car emergency kit with basic car tools
  • Snowbrush or scraper
  • Sand or kitty litter for better snow and ice grip
  • A shovel
  • First aid kit
  • Jackets, blankets, and things to keep you warm
  • Emergency food and water

Before you drive, it’s always important to clear your car of ice and snow before you leave the driveway, for both your safety and the safety of others around you. When clearing your car, make sure the following have been wiped off.:

  • Hood and grille
  • Windshield, brushed and scraped of ice
  • Door windows and mirrors
  • Rear window and taillights
  • Roof

Clearing these parts of your car is important for your field of view so you can drive safely. Besides that, snow can blind you or others unexpectedly, and flying ice can cause damage to vehicles behind you and cause a crash. If there’s a lot of snow falling, try to clear off the car midway through the snow event, that leaves less snow to deal with on your car in the morning.

If you’re out and about in the snow or any poor weather conditions, make sure to turn on your low beam headlights to make you more visible to other drivers.

When driving in winter weather, keep these tips in mind:

  • Leave extra space between yourself and other vehicles
  • Driver slower
  • Give yourself more time to reach destinations
  • Make gentler turns, accelerations and stops

All cars, even ones with 4-wheel-drive, will have difficulty stopping in poor winter conditions, especially on ice, so keep that in mind. If you ever find yourself in a skid, keep calm and take your foot off of the accelerator, turning into the skid, but don’t slam on the brakes.

This article originally appeared in MLive. Read more here.