Winter Driving Safety Tips
Another autumn is on the books, and winter is coming on faster than we’d like (for some of us, it has already arrived). Before the snow begins to fly in earnest, take some time to get brush up on winter driving safety. Over the past five years in Minnesota, law enforcement officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in almost 80,000 crashes, which led to 214 deaths and 20,761 injuries. That’s a lot of reasons to remind yourself about how to stay safe on snowy, icy roads. The bulk of winter driving safety happens before you even get behind the wheel. Take a few minutes to put together a winter driving kit, including:
- A scraper/brush
- Small shovel
- Jumper cables
- Tow chain
- Sand or cat litter (for traction)
- Heavy boots
- Warm clothing
- High-energy foods (chocolate, energy bars)
Once your safety kit is stowed, make sure your cell phone has a full charge, and tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to get there. Be sure to check road conditions, too – you can do that by calling 511 or visiting www.511.org before you take off (remember, accessing the internet or using your phone while driving a vehicle is illegal now). And here’s the important part: If the road conditions are too bad and your travel isn’t absolutely necessary, stay home. If you do need to set out, give yourself plenty of extra time to get there, and carefully clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, hood, roof, headlights, brake lights and turn signals. While you’re driving, be sure to drive appropriately for the conditions. In other words, if you need to go slower than the speed limit to stay safe, do so. Be sure to give plenty of space to the drivers ahead of you – and if it’s a snowplow, give it at least five car lengths.
If it’s snowing or sleeting, turn your headlights on, even if it’s in broad daylight. Skids can happen quickly, but stay calm. Ease your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the car to go. Finally, if you crash, don’t get out of the car. Dial 911, then grab that emergency kit. If it’s a particularly bad weather day, it may be a bit before emergency crews can get to you. If our beautiful summer make winter driving safety strategies go right out of your head, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Just take a few minutes to take the proper precautions and remind yourself how to stay safe in the car during our Minnesota winters.
Thanks to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for contributing to the content of this blog. For more helpful tips, check out their blog at https://dps.mn.gov/blog/Pages/default.aspx. Remember to contact your local Farmers Union Agent for your auto insurance needs. Don’t forget, we insure snowmobiles too!