Let's be honest, we spend a lot of time driving in winter weather here in southern Minnesota. You would think we would all be rockstar drivers in anything white and fluffy, but more often than not, it looks like everyone's first time out in the snow. And while you most likely have auto insurance (at least you should to drive in Minnesota), you still want to be cautious to avoid any winter accidents.
Here are some simple winter driving tips to help you get from here-to-there safely.
Tip #1 - Clear your vehicle of snow and ice
This seems pretty straight forward and obvious, but we've all seen that car driving down the road with just a tiny spot cleared on the windshield. Seeing the road and other drivers on the road is important so make sure all windows, and side mirror are clear. If time permits defrost your windows prior to leaving. Give yourself extra time during extreme winter weather.
Tip #2 - Take it slow
Allow yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination during snowy or icy weather. Roads can be unpredictable so drive with caution so that you have plenty of reaction time should something happen.
"In the past five years, officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in more than 79,165 crashes (2016-2020)." – dps.mn.gov
Tip #3 - Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
It is always good, no matter the weather to leave some room between your vehicle and other vehicles on the road. It can take your vehicle up to 10 times longer to stop on slippery roads so give yourself more room than normal to stop. Also be aware of plow trucks and emergency vehicles during snowy weather and give them the proper space on the road way.
Tip #4 - Take your foot off the gas
Stopping on a slippery road can be difficult. If you start to slide, driving experts say to take your foot off the gas pedal. Most vehicles are equipped with ABS (antilock brake system) where you only need to press on the brake and hold your foot there. The brakes will activate automatically if your vehicle senses you are sliding. If you do not have ABS, pump the brakes repeatedly until you come to a complete stop. Remember to keep steering!
Tip #5 - Keep your vehicle prepared for an emergency
You never know what can happen in winter weather. Even the best winter drivers get stuck or encounter vehicle issues during cold, wintery conditions. Going into the winter months, it is smart to keep some key items in your vehicle in case of an emergency:
granola bars or snack of some sort
gloves, boots and hat
first aid kit
rope or tow straps
You will always want to make sure you have plenty of gas in your vehicle and proper amounts of windshield washer fluid.
Bring on the winter weather!
Hopefully these tips help you prepare just a little more for Minnesota's winter weather. Drive safe!