How To Maneuver a Vehicle and Drive During Whiteout Conditions

by | Oct 25, 2018 | Headline News | 32 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Jeremiah Johnson at Tess Pennington’s

    Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster

    Whiteout conditions can be dangerous if not deadly. With cold weather around the corner, we’re going to cover some basic information on what you need to do when driving in these winter conditions.

    For those of you who are unaware of what it is like driving in whiteout conditions, this is a good video that demonstrates just how dangerous it can be.

    The most basic rule to follow for your safety before we proceed:

    If you do not think you can drive further, pull off to the safest available portion of the shoulder or off the road, hunker down, and wait out the storm. Make sure you have some emergency supplies to survive being stranded in your vehicle.

    One of the best things about living in the area that I do is that open stretches of empty road are just that: hardly any traffic at all. This Whiteout caught a lot of people off guard, and they were forced into it to make it home from work (as it began about 4 pm and lasted a few hours). Whiteouts are caused when the snowfall’s effects are exacerbated and strengthened by a strong wind. It is not necessarily a “blizzard,” but the more snowfall the worse it will be when the winds pick up. You cannot see even half a vehicle length in front of you.

    How To Drive in a Whiteout

    These techniques mentioned here should be practiced before you employ them for real. How do you practice? Find a road that does not have a lot of traffic that is close to your home and take one or two people with you. Take flashlights and attachments that make the flashlight a “colored cone,” preferably red as it stands out in the falling snow the best. Now practice the techniques that we will outline, with one person in the vehicle, and another one as a “control” person to help ensure success by guiding the vehicle from the outside.

    Now, let’s begin. This technique can be very dangerous if you do not employ it correctly. For naysayers and law-and-order worshipers, keep in mind: there are such things as mitigating circumstances. If you’re suffering from some kind of injury with no telephone and it’s a life-or-death situation, forget about Officer (Un)Friendly and go for the win…succeed in your travel.

    One of the problems with Whiteouts is with the headlights themselves. The lights reflect off the snowflakes and blind the driver. High-beams are out. Low-beams can also be “out,” and now for the punch line: You can drive through a Whiteout in a controlled manner better without the headlights than with them.

    I can see smirks and skeptics gathering the straw now, but before you burn me, hear me out. Try this under normal snowfall conditions. Try it in your neighborhood, or in your driveway…if you are away from the “city glow” at night. Turn off the headlights and look around. You see? You can see. There is enough ambient light in a snowfall to allow you to see…if you follow the key rule:

    You must give your eyes time to adjust to the low levels of light.

    This takes practice. In the Whiteout, you’ll be able to see the outline of things without the headlights to reflect back into your eyes. You’ll see the edges of the road, and the road in the distance…farther than with the headlights. I’m not talking about with NVG’s (Night Vision Goggles). I’m talking about killing your headlights, giving your eyes time to adjust to the darkness, and then setting out slowly, at a pace where you’re sure you can drive.

    If you can’t do it, then pull over to the side of the road and wait for a friendly officer with a badge…or for the storm to stop…the second option sure to be more productive.

    You will see oncoming traffic, and from a long way off. Then just pull over to the side of the road and put on your headlights until the opposing traffic passes. Also: cars ahead of you can be seen from their taillights and possibly from their headlights. It takes time to perfect and takes practice. When I was in the Service, there were a couple of really good platoon sergeants who used to take everyone out in HMMWV’s (referred to as “Humvees,”) and we would “drive blind,” that is to say with no night vision goggles or any light. In Germany, when you’re driving cross country and off the road, it’s even more difficult: but we learned.

    Practice does make perfect, and one final time, it’s not for everyone. When you’re faced with a life-threatening situation, however, and you must drive…it’s best to have something such as this for a plan. Let’s hear about your experiences with it, as it’s an important topic.  JJ out!

    About the Author

    Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

    Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

    Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

    The Prepper's Blueprint

    Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

    Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

    Visit her website at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.


    It Took 22 Years to Get to This Point

    Gold has been the right asset with which to save your funds in this millennium that began 23 years ago.

    Free Exclusive Report
    The inevitable Breakout – The two w’s

      Related Articles


      Join the conversation!

      It’s 100% free and your personal information will never be sold or shared online.


      1. The best way. SAY THE “F” OFF THE ROADS.

        • I was in a white out on I-90 just out of Seattle.
          It paralyzed the city and suburbs.
          People abandoned their cars and walked off city streets and the freeway. Even some truckers parked.
          I just got in the fast lane of I-90
          and drove at the speed limit 55 at the time.
          The truckers that move in conditions like that
          know if you slow down you will get your buttocks
          run over. I just got in the line. Many times I could
          not see the road edge markers.
          I got home 32 miles east of Seattle.
          I was one of the few that showed up to work the next day.


            • Driverdon, you make some good points. However, 1. You DON’T need to use all caps and 2. The word is WRECK not WREAK.

            • DriverDon, what a gay name.

            • if you aint crashed yet, yer doin’ sumthin’ WRONG!

          • In case I must stop along my route I’ve installed 2 separate inverters. 1 to the main battery that is strong enough to run a 1500 watt heater and another inverter hooked to an independent battery charged from another source than the engine. When it snows badly I tend to carry an ATV on the bed for extra weight and also as a backup way home in case my truck becomes incapacitated. Warm clothes and a get home bag with everything but the kitchen sink is a must too.

        • 1.Aim high in steering
          2.Get the big picture
          3.Keep your eyes moving
          4.Leave yourself an out
          5.Make sure they see you
          These are the 5 keys of the Smith System. Look on YouTube for what each key means, there’s too much info for me to put in here. Practice this system. It will make you a better driver, even in whiteout conditions. But in whiteouts, don’t tailgate, drive slow, use 4 ways, flutter your brakes to slow down and STAY THE HELL OFF OF YOUR DAMN CELLPHONE

      2. “If you can’t do it, then pull over to the side of the road and wait for a friendly officer with a badge”
        I have driven in weather conditions you would not believe. No way a cop could do it better, they were hiding in the station.
        A full tank of fuel, Manual transmission, 4WD locker.
        Full Disclosure; I have had to fix some trucks, but nobody ever got hurt. Floods, whiteouts, black ice, eruptions, wild fires, Hurricanes, and such. I’ve never driven through a Tornado. Don’t think I’d even try a tornado.

      3. Sarge, agreed. If you don’t absolutely need to get out in that crap, then don’t. That’s the BEST advice anyone can give. Take care of all your business, i.e., buying groceries, fill up with gas, paying bills, whatever you need to do AHEAD OF TIME BEFORE THE STORM HITS. If you don’t have a life-and-death emergency facing you, then just stay off the roads, stay inside your home and stay warm. IF you have no choice but to get out in it, then you drive in it REAL SLOW AND REAL EASY. NEVER EVER HIT YOUR BRAKE PEDAL QUICK IN SNOW AND/OR ICE IF YOU DON’T WANT AN ACCIDENT. Also the type of vehicle you have makes all the difference in the world. A 4WD is a life-saver in these situations, preferably a FULL-SIZE 4WD. All my relatives near the BOL have 4WD trucks and just won’t have anything else. Appalachians are known to get their share of snow/ice in winter. They’ve always been real sticklers for taking care of all business ahead of time before a winter storm hits. Even with 4WD you still don’t want to get on those mountain roads in any winter storm if you can avoid it. BTW, going back to north GA Sat. for a whole month. Fun time again, LOL.

        • DR,

          Is gospel. That is why I only have Manual transmissions. Never touch the brake until the situation is under control. Engine braking only, with a clutch you have control.

        • Yep, a 4WD, with a winch in the front bumper, and a wench in the back seat for when it’s time to pull over.

          • You ask her to dig you out from the snow drift you just got buried in.

        • “DR”
          Being a cop for as long as I have I’ve seen some pretty stupid people trying to drive in a white out.

          The wife is in Tenn. looking a some places wish us luck!!!


      4. My brother got lost in a blizzard up past the ape caves about 10 years ago. My mom called the cops and everything. It was about 1am when I finally made it up as far as the cop did in his SUV. I stopped and talked to him while I put my 4 oldschool ice breaker tire chains on my 76 Blazer with 33″ and a 8″ lift.
        Finally found him a hour later up the hill. He was in a Saturn car with cable chains with 2 of his girlfriends. They all went to the ape caves and got out at dark and it was snowing.

        Long story short, they left the parking lot at the visitor center there and thought a right to go up the hill was the way down the hill. The snow was up to my hood, he could barely open his doord probably almost 3ft of snow.

        God I miss that blazer it could go anywhere… dad was with me, he was my best friend. We gave my brother so much shit for that, maybe saved all their lives too who knows. My dad died 2 years later, that was still one of our best adventures and best memories.

        • Sarkin, one of my cousins in GA has 2 75 Blazers. One is fully restored and the other one is his ‘parts dept.’, hee hee. He drives that old Blazer everywhere, even on out-of-town trips. He rescued both of those from a junkyard. He might still restore the other one if he ever gets some free time. He keeps his 4WD as original as possible. He doesn’t really care for lift kits or any of that. He doesn’t do ‘mudding’, either. He loves the old Blazers. His Dad had one when he was a kid so that’s what he wanted to get one day. He found 2 75 Blazers at a junkyard 10 years ago and bought both of them. A year later, he had one fully restored; engine, transmission, rear end, even 4WD unit rebuilt. Even had the wiring system totally reworked. He swears by that vehicle and just won’t touch a new one.

        • Sarkin;
          You must be up by Kalama/Woodland area? Pretty place.

          • Ya not too far from kalama woodland 🙂 I love this area, especially this time of year….quite a few like minded people. Just sucks Seattle tends to spoil most of our votes so are second ammendment is getting smaller every year.
            Most states have a similar problem for people outside of the big city

      5. OFF TOPIC: Stock up on Pancake Syrup so that you don’t have to learn “How To Maneuver a Vehicle and Drive During Whiteout Conditions” to go to IHOP in the wintertime.

        Did you know that Pancake Syrup has an unlimited shelf-Life!?!? Pancakes are a big part of my survival pantry partly because of the long shelf-life of syrup.

        How long does syrup last? “Most syrups will last indefinitely”. The best way to store pancake and corn syrups is in their original air tight containers in the pantry. But pure maple syrup should be kept in its original container in the refrigerator once opened, to preserve its freshness.

        h ttp://

        • once opened maple syrup will eventually mold. been there done that

      6. Don’t forget to put some weight in the back of that 4×4 , sand bags best . I have to get to work, in Minn. Normally front wheel drive is enough , when it’s bad it’s F350 time . Don’t forget to condition that fuel either . The most dangerous thing out there is the people that can’t drive when the roads are even decent . If it’s black ice or just ice don’t go over 40. Put vasoline on your keys and use them a few times . And for God sakes give the plow drivers some room .

      7. I drive an older Ford with a manual transmission and four wheel drive. I swapped out the vacuum hubs for manual locking hubs (it is very easy). In a few weeks I’ll put my studded tires on. I carry firestarters, tarps, rope & paracord, mre’s, a sub zero rated sleeping bag, ax, shovel, chainsaw, tire chains, towstrap, highway flares and a few other goodies.

        One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the article is communications. I also have a CB radio (they’re mostly worthless today but once it’s in it doesn’t cost anything to keep it). I also have a Yaesu FT-8800 2 meter / 70 CM radio programmed for all of the repeaters in my part of the country. I can talk from Northern CA to the middle of WA on a linked system. The old FT-2900 radios were bullet proof and put out a 75 watt signal. I once contacted a fellow over 150 miles away simplex. (yes, you need a ham license to operate these but they are not hard to get. Practice tests available under the resources tab on QRZ dot com )

        Having driven in conditions where you couldn’t see five feet in front of you and once coming west from Spokane on I-90 when the road was so icy you could slide over 100 feet at 10 mph the best winter driving skill I can teach is “know when to stay home.”

      8. Assuming that you were going to live in weather, like that, and work in it, as a matter of routine, most normal, brandname, national, chain, stripmall stores could not even put the right clothes on your back.

        I think, they expect people to live, under central heating, near the microwave and strip mall.

        Motorists are incredibly trusting, to believe in a weather report and expect assistance, from equally-sedentary people, before hypothermia sets in.

      9. Most important thing: Go SLOW, as in really. really slow.

        Virtually every car or truck I see going off the road and into a ditch during heavy snow has always been the result of driving faster than it should have been driven.

        Remember that having four wheel drive means almost nothing when you start sliding and hit the brakes because you were going too fast, in fact a four wheel drives makes it easier and more likely to get yourself in that condition.

      10. Living in northern Alberta I live in this weather I work in it I play in it for 8 months a advise:
        1.) 4×4
        2.) Good tires
        3.) Full tank
        4.) Tie rope/ hooks
        5.) Reduce speed
        6.)check the weather
        7.) Travel during the day
        8.) Do not follow tail lights
        9.) Use low beam lights or just daytime running lights
        10.) Carry food water and a charged cell
        11.) Stick to well traveled roads
        If you are in a whiteout just pull over and wait it out.
        I’ve seen some really nasty weather here.
        And the best way to deal with it is take your time. Some situations are impossible to deal with no matter what.
        If a semi or bigger vehicle passes you your going to be totally blind. And you will loose orientation instantly.

        • AB you had some great useful advice, except..
          “… just Pull over to wait it out”. Will get you killed. PLEASE Don’t stop on shoulder EVER, day, night, snow, rain. NEVER stop on shoulder. Idiots on thier cell phones in 4×4 SUV will rear end you at high speed. Impact will be violent, then your vehicles catch fire and DIE. Seen it too many times. Ford Police cruisers are death at rear end impact. Not sure how Ford has covered this up so well?

          Also. I disagree with your night drive advice. Other People are your worse danger. Stay the hell away from people.

          Water-Sleeping Bags-Peanut Butter-Spare warm clothes.
          Dress as if you are going hunting/skiing in cold mountains and not like a city dweller. Make sure your children are also dressed properly, ski suits, boots, hat, gloves. You don’t have to dress them that way while in vehicle for long trip, but have ALL that gear with you and EASILY available in case of incident. (do they have both boots? both gloves?) Again don’t dress as city dweller. Ski/Hunting gear readily available BEST.

          But here was VERY best advice: Better than mine.
          Sgt. Dale says:
          Comment ID: 3886655
          October 25, 2018 at 9:12 pm

          The best way. STAY THE “F” OFF THE ROADS.

          – – – – – I agree 1000% with that advice.

        • don’t forget the lockers, beav. i live for the snow here in hi-desert, so cal. when it snows, i head to the mountains in my 04 rubicon to try and unclog the roads.i won’t help just anyone, only the ones that at least TRIED to do things right…..a chain came off, had to drive too close to the berm to miss an oncoming car, and a lot of times, there is NO WAY to hook onto a modern car without destroying the bumper. always carry a piece of chain, or some such, so you can attach the tow-strap to it. i spend time at places where they slide into the ditch on side of road at sharp turns. but sometimes pulling those people out and sending them on their way may just put them into BIGGER danger. i like to ask them if they LIVE up there, how LONG?, so i know whether they know how to drive in snow. you shouldn’t just roll up and pull someone out without knowing a bit about them. oh, and buy a 50″ rope at harbor freight for 5 buks, and keep it in your car/truck, so if caught unawares, you can make snow chains on your car out of it… works, just google snow chains made from rope. at least 5/8s….3/4 rope …both work. whenever i go, i make sure i got all i need to WALK HOME in a foot of snow, cause it just might happen. that’s a whole article in itself. carry a bag of cold-weather clothes at ALL TIMES, for everyone in your family. oh, and a poncho can be used to get on your knees to put your chains on. i can’t remember ever puttin’ chains on my jeep, but i DO keep a set of them hangin’ on the hi-lift jack to show the cal-trans guy, so he lets me through.

          • sorry, use 3/8 to 1/2″ rope for chains.
            Folding military surplus shovel? Also doubles as a weapon. a REAL shovel is PRICELESS in snow…..maybe even MORE expensive!
            A metal cup suspended over the candle can melt and slow boil water
            We always carry a Military Sleep System in our vehicles every where we go in addition to our GHBs. that bivy alone might just save your life.
            hatchet or bow saw, you may have to deal with branches.
            jumper cables, flares
            duct tape
            prybar, digging bar..halagon bar…harbor freight
            those boots BETTER be waterprof!….gloves TOO!
            look up this on survivalblog if you are dumb about stayinng warm in cold… Surviving The Cold, by The Other D.B. VERY good skooling on clothing, and some great comments afterward, some by me.

      11. That picture looks like Minnesota in May.

      12. My favorite position for driving my car in wintry conditions is from my living room easy chair. Feet propped up and a hot drink in my hand. Never had an automobile accident there!

      13. I don’t think they plow the side of the road around here…the snow there is many feet deep. No sense in getting buried on purpose. the plows WILL bury you. Sitting there would be a target..someone would think you are on the road in front of them and will crash into you just as fast as they realize you aren’t moving.. I just keep the lights of the car in front to where I can just see them, and go slow.
        Navigated most snow with my little honda civic last year until I found a patch of road with a lot of snow. I got stuck. I spun my one ton crew cab chevy around three full times on a two lane road once because I instinctively hit the brakes. How I stayed on the road is beyond me. Talk about pucker factor..

      14. First snowfall of the year, get into an empty parking lot and practice throwong your car into skids, controlling them, and pulling out of them. Figure out how to stop on a dime if needed (sometimes this involves doing a 360 e-braker.) Learn your car’s limits and then drive accordingly. Rear-wheel drive vs front-wheel drive is safer; to get out of a fishtail or skid in a front-wheel drive, you have to accelerate – this is not always possible, especially when you’re halfway through a set of decreasing-radius turns.

        Also, if you drive anything newer than around 2000, good luck turning off your headlights.

      Commenting Policy:

      Some comments on this web site are automatically moderated through our Spam protection systems. Please be patient if your comment isn’t immediately available. We’re not trying to censor you, the system just wants to make sure you’re not a robot posting random spam.

      This website thrives because of its community. While we support lively debates and understand that people get excited, frustrated or angry at times, we ask that the conversation remain civil. Racism, to include any religious affiliation, will not be tolerated on this site, including the disparagement of people in the comments section.