Winter driving can be hazardous, even more so if a driver is unprepared. The director of public affairs for the Oregon and Idaho AAA has some tips about staying safe this winter.

Matthew Conde said something that many people don’t think of or forget to do is headlight clean-up.

“It makes such a big difference, not only in your ability to see, but for others to see you,” he said.

Headlights can often become yellowed or cloudy and Conde said around 80 percent of light can be lost. A simple way to fix this is to just buy a car care headlight cleanup kit from a local auto parts store and most of the usable light can be restored.

Traction control is also an important thing to consider when driving in winter weather.

“Always keep in mind the fact that even if you are prepared for the elements around you, the other drivers that you might be around may not be,” Conde said. “If their driving ability and yours, if they don’t match up, then sometimes it is best to stay home if you can.”

Conde has several suggestions for those who do find themselves having to venture out on the roads.

  • When finding yourself in a skid keep steering the wheel in the direction you want to go.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the next car, around 8-10 seconds.
  • Bring chains, sand, kitty litter or anything else that could provide traction for your tires when stuck in the snow.

And always be cautious, aware and courteous to others on the road.

“Even if you are a tried and true winter driving warrior there is always a new group of people that are experiencing it for the first time,” Conde said.

Another good thing to take along with you in winter conditions is a winter preparedness kit. Conde recommends several items for the kit.

  • Some food and water
  • A blanket
  • Flares or other devices to notify people of where you are at
  • A basic first aid kit
  • Extra cellphone power

Conde said you can buy a mobile power bank to keep your phone charged.

Stay safe and be prepared.