The Massachusetts State Police would like to inform the public that there are certain precautions that all motorists may take to help deal with the challenges of driving during winter weather conditions. We encourage motorists to take note of their local forecast and plan accordingly. Road and weather conditions can change very rapidly.

Before a winter storm hits, check that vehicle fluids, such as washer fluid and anti-freeze, are at adequate levels. In addition, make sure that your wiper blades adequately clear your windshield of snow, rain, sand and salt. Be sure that your car has plenty of gas to get you safely to your destination or to a gas station to re-fuel. Remember that during bad weather situations, your journey may take longer than normal - be sure to take that into consideration when assessing your fuel level.

If possible, do not travel, or keep travel to a minimum, so work crews will have additional time to clear the roadways. If you do drive, anticipate delays, especially during the rush-hour commute. Clear snow and ice from your vehicle, including your taillights, headlights and roof. As always, buckle up for safety. Allow extra space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Remember stopping distances also need to be increased. Adjust speeds as warranted by road conditions and reduced visibility. (Speed limits were set for optimal, dry conditions.) Watch for black ice and be aware that bridge surfaces tend to freeze more quickly and remain frozen longer than other road surfaces. Turn headlights on to increase your visibility. Consider keeping a fully charged cell phone with you while driving. In any weather condition, if you become disabled or encounter an emergency on the roadways, dial 911 to report your location and the nature of the emergency. Always be aware of your location as you travel along the road - noting the route you are on and the number of the exit you most recently passed.

Be prepared in the event that you may become disabled. Check emergency equipment: spare tire, jumper cables, shovel, flashlight, flares, ice scraper, brush and blanket. Travel with additional warm clothing, hat, coat, gloves, and warm footwear. If an emergency situation should arise that requires use of the breakdown lane, pull over as far to the right as possible in the breakdown lane and activate your car's hazard lights. Use extreme care whenever exiting your vehicle - checking your mirrors for oncoming traffic before opening your door.