Missourians have now dealt with their first major snowstorm of the year. The State Highway Patrol hopes drivers have adjusted accordingly.

“Giving yourself some extra time.” Lt. John Hotz with the State Highway Patrol says, quite simply, that’s the most important thing you can do to stay safe driving in winter weather.

“It’s very important to reduce our speed that we travel at. Also we’re going to have to allow extra distance between us and the vehicles around us. Take your time. It’s better to get to your destination a little late than be involved in a traffic crash,” Hotz said.

Hotz says it’s also important to be prepared, and that snowy driving conditions really shouldn’t be a surprise to Missourians.

“If you haven’t had your car winterized yet, it’s a very good idea to do that. We know that extreme temperatures, either very hot or very cold in this case, can really play havoc on batteries, hoses, belts and tires and things like that. So we want to urge everybody to make sure their vehicle is properly winterized,” Hotz said. “Also make sure in your vehicle that you carry some blankets, a flashlight, maybe a bag of sand. Some stuff like that just in case you were to run into trouble on your trip.”

Hotz also warns that even after it appears snow has been cleared off of most roads there’s still often a danger of drifting; especially on rural roads.

“If we have winds that can become a problem, particularly in areas where there may be curves, things like that. You may be traveling along on the road and there may not be any snow out, and then you come to an area where there’s a strong wind and there could be as much as a couple of feet of snow that’s blowing across the road. So it’s really important, even though the roadway seems like it’s in pretty good shape, you’ll want to watch for areas where that snow may have drifted across the highway,” Hotz said.

Hotz also recommends Missourians check the weather conditions on their route before leaving their homes. The Department of Transportation’s Traveler Information Map is updated 24 hours a day.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]