Begin Main Content Area

Winter Preparation

Preparation is one key to successfully navigating winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that both you and your vehicle are ready for ice and snow.

Learn about safe winter driving and what to expect from PennDOT during the winter on our Winter Operations page.


Getting Your Vehicle Ready 

Preparation is one key to successfully navigating winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure your vehicle is ready for ice and snow. Prior to the winter driving season, you should have a mechanic check the brakes, battery, hoses and belts. Below are some additional tips for getting your vehicle ready for winter.

  • Check that your fluid levels are full.

  • Make sure your wipers don't streak. You may want to consider installing winter wiper blades.

  • Ensure your heater and defroster are working properly.

  • Check that your vehicle's radio is working properly so you can receive weather and traffic reports.

  • Make sure all lights are working.

  • Check to be sure tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth.

  • If you live in an area prone to heavy snow, you may want to use dedicated snow tires on your vehicle or carry a set of tire chains. At a minimum, your all-weather tires should be mud and snow rated.

  • In the case of a problem, contact a mechanic immediately.


Winter Emergency Kit

PennDOT recommends packing a winter emergency kit in your vehicle any time you travel. Print out our Winter Emergency Kit List (PDF) to help you in your preparations.

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Battery-operated radio

  • Jumper cables

  • Cellphone and charger

  • Snow shovel

  • Matches and candles

  • First aid supplies

  • Extra warm clothing and gloves

  • Blanket

  • Ice scraper

  • Sand

  • Bottled water

  • Non-perishable food

  • Anything else you may need to accommodate family traveling with you (special medication, baby supplies, pet food, etc.)


Is Your Mailbox Ready?

PennDOT allows property owners to place mailboxes within the limits of the legal right-of-way out of respect for the U.S. Postal Service's need to deliver, and mail customers' convenience of delivery. But because those boxes are within the right-of-way, damages are the responsibility of the property owner.

Be sure your mailbox has a strong support. You may also wish to use reflective tape or other material to make it easier to see during storms or during dark hours.

Check your box and support often, clearing snow from it and depositing the snow properly and in a manner to allow you and motorists proper sight distances (and never on the roadway).

Homeowners who have followed these tips in the past and have still experienced damaged mailboxes may wish to consider installing a cantilevered mailbox support that will swing a mailbox out of harm's way.


Driveway Tips

Maintaining safe and passable roads is PennDOT's top priority when dealing with winter weather. To help meet that need, PennDOT urges residents to not shovel snow onto state roads that have already been plowed. Snow should not be shoveled onto any roadway as this can increase the potential for crashes, and property owners can be held liable for any resulting crashes.

State law requires citizens to use and maintain their property in ways that avoid creating hazardous road conditions for others, including not obstructing highway lanes and drainage facilities with snow and ice. Fines can be as high as several hundred dollars.

PennDOT offers the following guidelines for shoveling or plowing snow on property adjacent to state-owned roadways:

  • Snow should be shoveled or plowed to the right side of the driveway as you are facing the intersecting roadway. By piling the snow away from the oncoming direction of the snow plows, the snow will not be pushed back onto the driveway.

  • Eliminate snow piles at the property entrance whenever possible. High accumulations of snow can obstruct the vision of motorists, posing a safety hazard.

  • Do not push snow onto roadways at any time. This creates a hazardous condition for all vehicles.