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Get ready for the real heart of winter -- and the roads

Snowflakes have fallen in Northwest Indiana, but we haven't seen the worst of winter yet. Now is the best time to prepare for the real wintry roads that will slow down traffic and make driving dangerous. Doing so can increase your safety as you run errands and travel everywhere else you need to go by car.

You need to take the time to get your winter driving survival kit together and brush up on your winter driving skills.

Winter driving survival kit

Your winter driving survival kit is your lifeline if you are stranded on the road for any reason, including a car crash or a massive traffic pileup like the ones that seem to happen on I-94 each winter.

In this kit, you need to have items that can keep you warm and safe. Having blankets, socks, hats and gloves is a good idea. You also need to have an ice scraper, water and non-perishable food.

A snow shovel is necessary so that you can clear the tailpipe of snow before you start the engine or remove snow from around the tires. Salt or sand is a good idea since you can use these for traction if your vehicle is stuck in snow or ice.

Prepare your vehicle

Check your vehicle to make sure it is ready for driving in the snow. Look at your tires: Is the tread sufficient? You might have to change your car's tires if there isn't enough tread. Make sure your gas tank is at least half full and that the windshield wiper fluid is full with a formula that contains a deicer.

Remember how to drive safely

Driving safely is important in the snow and on ice. You have to remember that the maneuverability isn't going to be the same as what it is on dry pavement. It is going to take you longer to stop and to accelerate. You might skid or slide if you try to get going or slow down too fast. Remember that if you do skid, you should steer into the skid instead of against it.

Try to give other drivers room to move in these conditions. You can't always gauge what they will do so be vigilant to watch what is going on around you.

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