WACO, Texas – Winter weather is on its way to central Texas, and before it gets here, officials recommend preparing your car.

Officials say if you don’t have to drive, don’t do it. But if you must get somewhere, you need to prepare.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas AAA advise people to check your car’s battery, windshield wipers, tires, and fluid levels before you hit the road.

Spokesperson for Texas AAA, Daniel Armbruster, says tires are one of the most important things to check to make sure the tread and the tire pressure is good enough.

“You need good, healthy tires if you’re going to be driving in any sort of winter precipitation, and really you just need them in general for driving,” Armbruster said.

Also, officials recommend having an emergency kit ready in your car. Those items include:

  • Traction aids (sand, salt, non-clumping cat litter or traction mats)
  • Shovel
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables or jump pack
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, duct tape, plastic zip ties)
  • Tarp, raincoat and gloves to help stay clean/dry if you must get out of the vehicle
  • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
  • Warning devices (flares, reflective triangles or LED beacons)
  • First-aid kit (check expiration date)
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks/food for your passengers and any pets
  • Ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Winter windshield washer solvent
  • Warm gloves, clothes, hats and blankets for all passengers in your car
  • Car charger for mobile phone

“It’s always good to have these items in there because you never know how long you might be staying in the vehicle.”

If you must drive bad in weather, Sgt. Johnny Bures from the TDPS says time and distance are the most important things.

“Time to get there, not rushing, so you’re not trying to have to speed or even drive the speed limit to get there,” Sgt. Bures said. “And then distance to where you can maintain safe distances from the other motoring folks around you.”

Leave early and allow extra time to get where you’re going. Also, avoid overpasses if you can because those tend to freeze up first, DPS says.

And, if you do get into a skid, Armbruster says not to break. Instead, steer the car in the direction you’re going.

“That (breaking) will just make the situation worse because it will shift your vehicle’s weight and could cause you to further lose control,” Armbruster said.