One of the most exciting things about living in Minnesota is the opportunity to experience all four seasons. We get the growth and blooms of springtime, summer days by the lake, fall foliage people in other regions can only dream of, and winter snowscapes that are perfect for sledding, skiing, and sipping hot cocoa.
While every season in Minnesota brings its own joys and activities, they also come with their drawbacks. And, if you ask any Minnesotan about winter, they're likely to bring up driving and road conditions in their list of things they don't love about winter (it usually comes right after they talk about those days where the wind chill is -30 degrees).
Because safe driving in the winter is so important, we put together the following tips to help keep you, your loved ones, and everybody else out of harm's way.
Have Your Battery Tested
Cold weather can take quite a toll on a vehicle's battery. During fall and/or winter, be sure to have your car's battery and battery charging system checked. Car batteries typically give off warning signs that they're going to fail, but it's not always easy to catch them when you're busy with your life.
Having an auto technician check things over will be much better than finding your car won't start one morning. Plus, you'll save plenty of time by having your battery checked before something goes wrong.
We covered additional tips for preparing your vehicle for winter in this video.
Reduce Driving Distractions
Distracted driving can be dangerous any time of year, especially in winter. Because of slippery road conditions, focusing on anything besides driving when you're on the road can be a recipe for disaster. Nearly 25 percent of all car crashes involve a distracted driver. You'll want to avoid things like:
- Adjusting dashboard controls
All of these activities pull a driver's focus from the road and increase your odds of being in an accident.
Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly
Wintertime driving conditions can challenge both experienced and new drivers. In order to stay safe out there, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to accelerate and decelerate slowly. For instance, when you're making a right turn onto a new road, you'll need to give yourself more time to get up to speed than you would during ideal conditions. Ice and snow on the road mean it'll take longer for your vehicle to enter its new lane and accelerate.
The same things come into play when you want to slow your vehicle down, too. Give yourself extra space and time to slow down at intersections and crosswalks.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Condensation can form inside gas tanks. In the wintertime, that condensation can freeze, causing blockages in your fuel lines and creating problems with starting your car. It's best to keep your gas tank close to full throughout the winter. As a rule of thumb, try to keep it at or above half a tank at all times. As an added bonus, a full gas tank will mean if you do end up stalled or in the ditch, you won't have to worry about running out of fuel.
If you'd like some more winter driving tips, we covered a few