Safe Winter Driving
The thought of driving in the winter sends some drivers into anxiety attacks, while others take a casual approach and drive the way they do the rest of the year. Neither are a good approach, because while winter driving isn’t something that should induce a panic, it is a time of year where special care has to be taken to avoid an accident. Safe driving on icy and snow-covered roads is possible, but it usually means slowing down and being very aware of road conditions as well as the other drivers around you. Here are some good basic Winter Driving Tips to help you make it safely through this Minnesota winter.
Keep your view unobstructed.
Make sure all ice and snow are removed from your vehicle before you drive off. Blowing snow and ice can hit the windshield and momentarily cause a blind spot at the worst possible moment. Don’t make the mistake of just scraping off enough of the windshield to be able to see out and then expect the defroster to do the rest. Snow left on your hood can blow up on your windshield and totally block your vision. Some windshield treatments can make snow and ice removal easier.
Reduce your speed.
Remember that posted limits are for optimal road conditions. Snow and ice require slower speeds. And if you’re driving in a snowstorm or snow is blowing, reduce your speed even more to compensate for low visibility. When heading out, allow extra time to get to your destination so you’re not tempted to drive faster than conditions allow.
Pump your brakes (for cars without anti-lock brakes only).
Press the brake pedal down to just short of engaging, then back off pressure and press slowly again as needed to slow down without your brakes locking up. DO NOT USE THIS TECHNIQUE WITH ANTI-LOCK BRAKES: CONTINUOUS PRESSURE IS REQUIRED.
Maintain longer distances between cars.
You can’t stop as quickly as you can on dry pavement, so allow more space between you and the car ahead of you.
Be on the alert for danger.
Winter means stalled cars, narrower road shoulders, and sudden gusts of blowing snow. Stay alert for sudden road hazards. This is especially important when you approach the crest of a hill or come around a curve.
Stay calm in the event of a skid.
Resist the temptation to hit the brakes; this can only lead to loss of control. Keep both hands on the wheel, ease off the gas pedal, and steer in the direction you wish to go, then straighten the wheel when it is moving in the right direction. If necessary, as the car begins to slow down and come out of the skid, SLOWLY pump the brakes.
While winter driving in Minnesota probably won’t ever be a breeze, taking a little bit of time and using some common-sense driving techniques can keep you safer on the road this winter, and hopefully reduce stress.
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