Missourians expect the weather to change and it appears they won’t be disappointed this week.

As New Year’s approaches, the forecast shows colder temperatures, rain, and wet snow showers on the horizon. Weather affects traffic patterns and can make driving hazardous. Lower overnight temperatures may cause wet roadways to freeze and become slick.

Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol urge everyone to pay attention to weather conditions and make smart decisions regarding travel. If conditions dictate, avoid driving on Missouri’s roadways. When you travel, make sure your vehicle is completely clean of snow, use your headlights to increase visibility, and reduce your speed when the roadway appears wet or snow is present. Remember: Missouri law states if you’re using your windshield wipers, your headlights must be turned on.

During inclement weather, driving the speed limit is not "exercising the highest degree of care." Missouri law (Section 304.012 RSMo) states the responsibility of exercising the highest degree of care while driving rests on the driver's shoulders. Please adjust your speed to the weather. Do not use cruise control and increase your following distance. It is next to impossible to stop quickly on snow-covered or slick roads. Allow extra driving time for you to reach your destination at a slow, safe speed.

Troopers suggest keeping your fuel tank at least half full. In preparation for winter weather, place an ice scraper, battery booster cables, blankets, extra coats, gloves, water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, flashlight, small shovel, and a bag of sand or cat litter in your trunk now, before an emergency occurs.

Before you travel, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and keep it with you. Do not use your cell phone when you are driving; park your vehicle well off the roadway or in a parking lot before placing a call. The Missouri State Highway Patrol emergency number is 1-800-525-5555 (or *55 on a cellular phone). These numbers ring at the nearest troop headquarters. Troopers are available to assist you.

Motorists are encouraged to check road conditions before driving to help determine if the trip can be completed safely. Missouri’s Road Condition Report is available at 1-888-275-6636 or MoDOT’s Road Condition Map at http://traveler.modot.org/map/. The MoDOT Traveler Information Map app can be downloaded free of charge to your smart devices.

Please remember to buckle up, pay attention, be courteous, and obey all traffic laws. When weather conditions make driving hazardous, drive only when absolutely necessary.

Too many people die in traffic crashes each year in Missouri. The choices you make when you’re behind the wheel matter. Make good choices, so you’ll never have to say, “If I could just go back …”

Follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter @MSHPTrooperGHQ

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