Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It was a gorgeous fall, but winter has officially arrived with snow, cold and slick roads.

KGVO News reached out to Montana Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Sergeant Jay Nelson for important safety tips for drivers on snow-covered and icy roads.

MHP says Preparation is the Key to Winter Driving Safety

Nelson said preparation is the key to winter driving safety.

“The biggest thing is to make sure your vehicle is in good working order,” began Sergeant Nelson. “Check your tires, check the tread, check the inflation, and check your fluids. All those will help make sure that your vehicle is ready to operate in the winter weather. The other thing is to slow down; really giving yourself more stopping distance than you have for the last seven months.”

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In Case of an Accident Use Common Sense and Stay Safe

If you are involved in a winter driving accident, Nelson said common sense will help you decide what to do.

“The biggest thing is if there's no injuries in you can get your vehicle off of the roadway,” he said. “That's the biggest thing. If you need to take a picture, please be very careful. We tell our troopers if one crash has occurred where you're at, then the possibility of another crash happening at that exact same location is very probable. So if you can and there are no injuries and can get off the side of the road, do so.”

For those planning a road trip this winter, Nelson said make sure friends or family know where you’re headed.

If You're Traveling let Friends and Family Know Location and Timing

“Always plan ahead and tell people if you're going to take a road trip,” he said. “Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle is always another good one that you can do with everything from a blanket to some non-perishable food, some type of signaling device should you get on the side of the road and stranded that you could signal somebody to get assistance for you. That's the biggest takeaway we can give now that this winter weather is upon us.”

Nelson also advised drivers to make an appointment as soon as possible to get their snow tires put on and slow down at all intersections.

Nelson told KGVO News just after noon on Wednesday after the first snowfall of the season that there were 8 vehicle crashes reported in the Missoula District, with multiple non-injury slide-offs. In addition, there was a double fatal crash reported just after 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday. No names have been released.

Nelson also asks all drivers to view this compelling video of heroic Trooper Wade Palmer and his partner T.J. Templeton as they encountered a multiple-vehicle crash on an icy I-90 near Frenchtown several years ago.

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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