With the threat of wintery weather never too far away, the Kentucky State Police is cautioning motorists to be prepared for hazardous driving conditions.

Winter driving can present formidable challenges including sleet, snow, slick roads, freezing temperatures and reduced visibility and it can be a deadly combination if you’re not prepared.

KSP reported that slippery roads were the contributing factor in 12,412 crashes and 51 highway deaths in 2016.

To meet the challenges of the upcoming winter driving season, KSP reminds drivers to plan ahead, make sure all passengers are properly restrained, drive defensively and ensure your vehicle is properly maintained to handle the effects of cold temperatures.

Other safe winter travel tips include: checking road and weather conditions before you leave; reduce speed in wintery conditions; leave early, allow more travel time and expect delays; increase the distance between vehicles – the ability to stop is significantly affected on snow covered or icy roadways; clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel – having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision; ensure your windshield washer fluid is full and that you use an anti-ice solution; turn on your vehicle’s headlamps and remove any dirt, mud or snow; use caution on bridges and overpasses as they are susceptible to freezing before roadways; avoid using cruise control which can cause a vehicle’s wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased; ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time; charge your cell phone prior to departure; always dress warmly and keep a blanket in the vehicle; and carry a winter survival kit that includes items such as blankets, a first-aid kit, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water), windshield scraper, booster cables, road maps, tool kit, bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction), collapsible shovel, flashlight and extra batteries.

KSP is also requesting that travelers keep an eye out for stranded motorists. If you see or suspect that someone is stranded, contact law enforcement.

If you happen to get stranded, staying in your vehicle is often the safest choice and KSP offers these added tips: tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers; move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area; wrap your entire body, including your head, in blankets, or extra clothing; stay awake – you will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems; run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let air in. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe as this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning; as you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer; and do not eat un-melted snow, it will lower your body temperature.

KSP is asking everyone to please remember to be patient. Bad weather often produces an unusually high volume of requests for service. Plus, the capabilities of first responders are limited, which increases response time. So be sure to follow these tips to ensure safe travel during anything this winter may throw your way.