2. Wear your safety belts. "You have to be protected, no matter what season it is," says Carole Guzzetta of the National Safety Council's Safety Belt Coalition. Make it a rule: Everyone must be buckled up before the vehicle moves.
3. Don't drink and drive. At least 30 percent of those winter-driving crashes that lead to visits to the local hospital involve alcohol, Heegaard says. Remember that you have less reaction time in hazardous conditions.
4. Winterize your vehicle's safety kit. The kit should include some special additions, such as a blanket, a small shovel to dig out snow, sand to help get traction if needed, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, ice scraper/brush and lock deicer.
5. Conduct a pre-trip inspection. Check the antifreeze. Make sure you have proper tires to handle the weather. Be sure you have enough gas for each trip. Wipers must be in good shape to handle snow and ice. Remember to first unstick them from the frozen glass.
6. Be ready for changing conditions. Make sure you have good all-season tires that can handle different types of weather. Check with your auto mechanic or a professional at a tire store to discuss your options. In high snow and ice areas, you may need more than all-season tires.
7. Don't get SUV overconfidence. "The bigger the vehicle, the tougher it is to stop," says Liz Neblett of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While a sport-utility vehicle might get through some tough conditions more easily, it won't stop more quickly, and it may roll over if you make a turn too fast.
8. Know how to react to trouble. If you have antilock brakes, don't pump them. Press them down as hard as you can. If you go into a skid, turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go; that will keep the vehicle from skidding out of control. Then prepare to counter steer 2 or 3 times.
9. Leave some space. Follow the 3-second rule. After the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, you should be able to count for 3 seconds before your vehicle passes the same object. Add 1 more second for each driving condition that deteriorates.
10. Defuse road rage. One-fourth of drivers in a recent AAA survey admitted they have expressed anger at other drivers. To avoid becoming a road-rage statistic, leave more room between yourself and other drivers. Stay out of the left lane if you're going slow. And don't play games on the road.