HARRISBURG, PA - With temperatures and wind chills hovering in the teens or lower in Pennsylvania, PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler this week urged motorists to be sure that vehicles are properly serviced and contain a well-stocked emergency kit. 

"One of the biggest risks that a driver can take is to venture out during the winter months without ensuring that their vehicle is properly prepared for the rigors of winter driving," Biehler said. "It takes less than 10 minutes to do a quick 'winter-ready' inspection of a vehicle and pack an emergency kit -- two simple steps that will help keep drivers safe this winter." 

To perform a "winter-ready" inspection on a vehicle, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recommends the following:

  • Check that fluid levels are full
  • Make sure wipers do not streak; consider installing winter wiper blades
  • Ensure that the heater and defroster work properly
  • Make sure the vehicle's radio is working properly so the driver can receive weather and traffic reports
  • Make sure all lights are working
  • Check to be sure all tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. A quick way to check tread depth is to insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln's head upside down. If you can see the entire head, your tires will not provide safe traction in ice, rain and snow.
  • If the vehicle is driven in an area prone to heavy snow, consider using dedicated snow tires on the vehicle or carry a set of tire chains. At a minimum, all-weather tires should be mud and snow rated.
  • Look for evidence of fluid leaks. If found, contact a mechanic immediately. 


PennDOT also urges motorists to pack a winter emergency kit for each vehicle that they drive. According to PennDOT, the emergency kit should contain at a minimum:

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra cell phone batteries and charger
  • Snow shovel
  • Matches and candles
  • First-aid supplies
  • Extra warm clothing, gloves and boots
  • Blanket
  • Ice scraper
  • Sand
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Anything else you may need to accommodate passengers (special medication, baby supplies, pet food, etc.). 

Pennsylvania motorists can create their own personalized checklists with the template provided online at www.dot.state.pa.us/Winter, PennDOT's winter website. More winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms are also available on this Web site. 

"We want all motorists to be ready, be wise and be safe this winter season," Biehler said. "That includes using good judgment about whether it is necessary to travel when weather conditions are poor." 

When preparing for winter travel, Pennsylvania drivers can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. The 511 site also provides color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA Web site. 

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet