Drive to Survive this Winter Season

AAA Minneapolis Give Tips for Driving Safe This Upcoming Week and All Winter Long

Traffic Safety

ST. LOUIS PARK (January 12, 2018) – Winter in Minnesota can put a damper on driving conditions, especially when snow and ice are involved. AAA Minneapolis expects to rescue nearly 85,000 Minnesota drivers this year. Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter in the U.S., according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA urges drivers to slow down, be cautious and prepare their vehicles for the cold days ahead.

“Driving in winter conditions can be challenging,” said Chris Claeson, Manager of Driving Programs. “Black ice, heavy snowfall, roads that have not been cleared of snow and other bad driving conditions can make it more difficult for drivers to control their vehicle and avoid a crash.”

To help keep drivers safe on the road, AAA offers the following tips for driving in winter weather:

  • Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of five to six seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary. 
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads. If your vehicle hydroplanes or skids, you will lose the ability to regain some traction simply by lifting off the accelerator.
  • Slow down and adjust your speed to the road conditions. Leave yourself ample room to stop. Accelerate, turn and brake as gradually and smoothly as you can.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes. If your car begins to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go. Slamming on the brakes will only make your vehicle harder to control.
  • Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • React quickly. Watch the traffic ahead and slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, skidding cars or emergency flashers. 
  • Completely brush snow and scrape ice off of your vehicle, so that it doesn’t fly off when you’re on the road.  Flying snow and ice chunks are dangerous for both your field of vision and others’.

Vehicles are more likely to break down if proper maintenance has not been performed. A seasonal checkup could help minimize breakdowns.

To prepare a vehicle for the winter ahead, AAA recommends the following tips:

  • Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, flashlight, an ice scraper or snow brush, booster cables, a blanket, gloves or mittens and flares or reflective triangles.
  • Always keep your gas tank ¼ full.  This is important for safety reasons.  If you get stranded, you want to be able to keep your car running to stay warm. 
  • Wash and wax your vehicle to help prevent rust damage, which costs drivers approximately $3 billion every year. 
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. Consider getting beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to help fight snow and ice buildup.
  • Inspect your tires. Make sure tires have adequate tread depth – at least 4/32” – as worn tires can affect a driver’s ability to stop in slick conditions.
  • Have your battery tested. A AAA survey found that two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested. If a battery is more than three years old have it checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to endure cold weather. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.

“If you have no choice but to venture out into ice and snow, remember to pack an emergency kit and drive slowly,” said Claeson “However, if you really don’t have to go out, stay home. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.”