LYNCHBURG, Va (WFXR) — Inclement winter weather can impact road conditions and lead to higher levels of danger when driving. Experts are encouraging people to stay home and off the roads if possible, but say if you do need to drive to take extra precautions.

Len Stevens from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says in any inclement weather, it is important to keep safety the top priority.

“Leave extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, watch your speed, be wary going over bridges and overpasses where they can ice over first,” said Stevens.

Lieutenant Shawn Hartman with the Monelison Volunteer Fire Department says they often see these conditions lead to accidents.

“Visibility will be decreased in ice or snow, or rain, heavy rain, so a lot of miscalculations on the road,” said Hartman.

Both Stevens and Hartman said one of the most important things people can do is to plan ahead to avoid any hazards.

“Make sure that you plan your route, and that you have a cell phone with you for emergencies, make sure that you have good tread on your tires, and you wear your seatbelt,” Hartman said.

Stevens agrees that being informed of the weather conditions of your next location is crucial.

“Chart your path, see what the conditions are on the route you’re traveling,” said Stevens.

In addition, Stevens recommends keeping a winter weather safety kit in your vehicle in case of emergency.

“A blanket maybe an extra jacket or a sweater something to help you stay warm, gloves are important, ice scraper, that sort of thing, and probably a flashlight,” Stevens said.

A full list of recommended items can be found on the VDOT website— but above all experts encourage the community to be responsible to keep themselves and the people around them safe.

“Don’t put your life at risk or someone else’s life and the life of volunteer firefighters and EMS that have to come out, so stay safe, stay home, happy holidays and happy new year,” said Hartman.

In addition to road conditions — experts say these winter storms can contribute to other hazards such as down powerlines and fallen trees– so they really are urging people to wait to travel if possible and stay at home.