Ellen Mattila of the Idaho Transportation Department sent out a message to Gem State residents this week, asking “Are you Idaho Ready for winter driving?” The Department, like everyone else in Idaho, knows the state looks great with a fresh blanket of snow. And that’s fantastic if you’re not driving. But when you are, the Idaho Transportation Department naturally wants to make sure you’re prepared to do so safely. In that light, the time to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter conditions is now, before they get going. Scott Stokes, the Idaho Transportation Department Director, said, “There is so much to love about Idaho in the snow, but drivers who want to get out there and enjoy it need to be careful. Giving driving your full and undivided attention combined with an extra measure of caution could be what keeps you from having irreversible regrets.” To the Idaho Transportation Department, your safety is a top priority. When it snows, several hundred Idaho Transportation Department employees work around the clock, Mattila’s message says, to keep our more than twelve-thousand miles of highways safe for the traveling public. That means they plow them, of course. But, Mattila’s message goes on, plowed roads are only one part of a safe ride this winter. If you see a snowplow on the road, give it plenty of room to do its job. The safest place is behind the plow. Last winter, seventeen people crashed into snowplows in the state of Idaho. Also, make sure your car is ready for winter driving by checking your windshield wiper fluid, your battery and the tires. You might also give some consideration to winter tires, which will give you extra traction when you need it. If you have tire chains, the Idaho Transportation Department says learning how to put them on before they’re needed would be a great idea. In addition, you should create a winter car emergency kit. If you have one from last year, open it and make sure the supplies are all in good condition. The Department recommends you download the Idaho 511 app, or at least bookmark 511.idaho.gov so you can check road conditions before you drive. Once the snow starts falling, they say, it’s going to take longer to get everywhere, so plan extra time for trips and be patient with fellow drivers. Like you, most of them are just trying to get somewhere safely. When roads are wet or icy, slow down. That will give you more stopping distance. Don’t use cruise control. And remember that bridges and overpasses are the first parts of the road to freeze when temperatures drop. Mattila’s message also says that if you’re driving and start to slide, stay calm. Brake gently and turn your wheel in the direction of the skid while trying to avoid overcorrecting. Need more tips? You’ll find them at itd.idaho.gov.