Winter Weather Is Upon Us: How Minnesota Drivers Can Stay Safe

The long, cold Minnesota winters never fail to blanket the state’s roadways, causing many weather-related accidents that can range from minor to severe. Minnesota was sixth in the nation for icy road fatalities during the 2009-2010 season, with 18 fatal accidents during that winter.

Minneapolis weather-related auto accident attorneys and other people who work with accident victims understand the danger that comes with winter driving. They encourage safe, cautious driving in the snow, ice and sleet.

Fortunately, there are several things drivers can do to stay safe on winter roads.

Use the Right Equipment

Outfitting your car with appropriate winter gear is the first step toward safe winter driving. Replacing summer performance tires with winter tires with a tread depth of 6/32 of an inch or more can greatly improve traction. Replacing worn windshield wipers and refilling wiper fluid reservoirs are also prudent actions. Since it gets so cold in Minnesota, it is wise to never let your car get below half a tank of gas, since less than that can cause gas lines to freeze up.

Drive With Caution

Many Minnesota accidents can be avoided by reducing speed on icy or snowy roads. Remember that when there is ice or snow on the pavement, traction is greatly reduced, resulting in increased stopping time. Drivers should also take more time to accelerate, since having a lead foot will reduce traction. Never drive when you are fatigued and always keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Of course, always wear your seatbelt.

Winter Driving Techniques

In addition to slowing down your actions, there are several winter-specific techniques drivers can use to make winter driving safer:

  • The first is a bit counter-intuitive: Use the air conditioning. Pressing the air conditioning button helps defrost interior windows, even when the temperature is on hot. Use the fresh air setting to help the defrosting process along.
  • When on the road, avoid using cruise control because doing so takes control away from you.
  • Use the laws of nature: Take advantage of gravity when going down hills rather than the accelerator pedal, and let your car slow itself rather than slamming on the brakes.
  • Take corners easily: Brake before the corner, control through the turn and accelerate out of it to maintain traction.

Taking a winter driving safety course can also help drivers implement safe driving habits. Armed with these techniques, drivers should be safer on the road. However, it is impossible to avoid all winter driving accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a weather-related crash, contact a personal injury attorney experienced in winter weather accidents.