The temperatures have dropped, and the first snowfall has gilded the ground. Winter seems to have officially arrived in Minnesota. With the holidays right around the corner, many Minnesotans are going to be on the roads traveling back and forth to holiday get-togethers.
Though most Minnesotans are used to driving in snow and ice, it never hurts to brush up on a few winter driving tips. Here are six ways to drive safer on snow and ice this winter.
Do not use cruise on icy, snowy or otherwise wet roads
Most car manuals tell you not to use cruise control on slippery roads. If your wheels lose traction and start to spin, cruise control will continue to accelerate. This could send your car into a skid. Since you do not have your foot on the gas, you may not notice until it is already too late to do anything.
This seems obvious, and yet, there are plenty of drivers that barrel down the roads at full speed when road conditions are bad. Everything takes longer on snow or ice-covered roads. When you are accelerating, apply your foot to the gas pedal slowly to regain traction and avoid skidding. Remember, being a few minutes late because you slowed down will still get you there a lot faster than if you get into an accident because you are rushing.
Leave more following distance
According to AAA, the following distance on dry pavement is three to four seconds, but when conditions are snowy, you should increase the distance to eight to ten seconds. This will give you more time to stop on slick roads.
Try to avoid stopping completely
When the roads are snow-covered, it takes much more inertia to get moving from a full stop than to keep moving while your car is rolling. If it is possible to slow down enough to keep your car moving at a traffic light, do so. This could also prevent you from skidding and spinning on the snow.
Do not speed up hills
You may be tempted to punch your gas pedal to get up hills in the snow. However, hitting the gas hard will likely just make your tires spin. Before you reach a hill, get as much momentum as you can safely, and then let that momentum carry you to the top of the hill. Try not to stop because you will lose that momentum. It is much harder get moving again on a hill in the snow. When you reach the top, slow down and proceed cautiously down the other side.
Consider staying home
If the weather conditions are terrible, consider staying home. Tell your boss you are going to work from home, or take a sick day if necessary. If you are headed to your relatives for the holidays, consider leaving the next day, after the roads have been cleared. Or you could just reschedule for a later date. Your family wants you to stay safe, rather than risking life and limb to get there for holiday dinner.
Driving in snow and ice is an inevitable part of living in Minnesota. However, if you exercise a little extra caution on roads, it can help you get through another winter without a car accident.