Safe Winter Driving Tips from Farmers Union Agency

Winter driving can be dangerous and scary, especially in northern regions that get a lot of snow and ice like Minnesota. Additional preparations can help make a trip safer, or help motorists deal with an emergency. Read on for tips on how to prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms.

  • If at all possible, avoid driving while you are fatigued, this will reduce driving risks.
  • Check your tires, battery, and windshield wipers on a regular basis throughout the winter. 
  • You should never use cruise control when driving on any slippery surfaces.
  • It’s always a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full in case of an emergency situation.
  • If you are ever in a dangerous situation, stay in your car. Put bright markers on antenna or windows and shine dome light, and, if you run your car, clear exhaust pipe and run it just enough to stay warm.
  • In the winter it is necessary to know that stopping distances are longer if there is ice or water-covered ice.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Did you know that children 12 and under are always safer in the back seat?
  • You should never put a rear-facing child seat, or any, in front of an air bag.
  • Don’t forget to buckle up!  

Items to Always Have in Your Car 

  • Extra hat, mittens, scarves, boots, etc.
  • Flashlight – plus the extra batteries
  • Something to use for traction – sand, cat litter, or strips of carpet all work well
  • Jumper cables
  • Shovel and ice scraper
  • Blankets – try to have a couple
  • Food: candy and nuts are good high-calorie, non-perishable food options
  • Water

Even with a flashlight, jumper cables, a shovel, an ice scraper, and all that extra food and water; keep in mind that driving in the winter is very treacherous. And even if you maintain control of your car, not everyone else will. So don’t ever lose your focus on the road (put down your phones), do everything slowly and gently. Remember, in the snow, the tires are always just barely grabbing the road. Accelerate slowly and gently, turn slowly and gently, and brake slowly and gently. To do this, you have to anticipate turns and stops. That means what? Going slowly and leaving plenty of distance between you and other cars. Rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control.

For more resources on driving safe this winter, check out the links below!

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/SafeDriving.pdf

http://www.cartalk.com/content/winter-driving-tips-7

http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/Departments/SnowIce/SafeWinterDrivingTips.aspx

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