By Zak Larsen
Being from Minnesota (dontcha know) I was driving in the ice and snow ever since I got my learner’s permit. It became second nature to me and I never really thought more of it until I moved down to Kansas and realized not everyone knows how to drive in wintry conditions…. Oofda. Travelling during the holidays means a lot more than just knowing how to drive in snowy conditions so I thought I’d grab a few of those thoughts together from AAA for those who may not have had to drive in the snow before.
So first the prep work.
- If you are travelling long distances, always make sure that you’ve seen the forecast and can plan your travel time accordingly.
- Go through a quick safety check of your vehicle. Check your battery to make sure you have a good charge, make sure all of your fluids (especially anti-freeze) are at the appropriate levels, your tires should be inflated properly for maximum traction, and your lights should all be in working order. Having a mechanic or quick-lube location do a safety check is also a good option.
- Pack a quick in case of emergency box; this should include a collapsible shovel, a blanket or sleeping bag to stay warm, salt or sand to help get traction in case of being stuck in snow, a flashlight, road flares, some hand warmers and a change of dry clothes are always a good idea as well.
- Always keep your gas tank above 1/2 tank in the winter time, you don’t want those gas lines freezing up!
Now on to the actual driving portion.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Slowly pushing down on the gas is the best method to regain traction and avoid skidding. Don’t try to get going quickly, it will take a little longer for your tires to catch on that slick ground and start moving forward. Take time to slow down to a stop light or stop sign, it takes longer to slow down on the slippery pavement and can be difficult to judge the amount of distance really needed to come to a complete stop.
- Give yourself time to make the turn, especially when it is currently snowing and there is some accumulation on the ground you may find yourself needing a little more time and space to make a complete turn. Just remember slow down and make deliberate movements.
- Don’t stop on the road if you can avoid it, there’s a big difference in the amount of work it takes to get a vehicle moving from a slow crawl versus a full stop. If you’ve got the time and space to slowly roll up to a yield sign or a stop light and roll until it turns green, do it.
- Don’t just power up the hills. I know this is tempting, especially if you’re in a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but trying to accelerate too quickly on a slick surface is just going to get your wheels spinning and waste your gas. If possible you should build up a little bit of inertia before the hill and let that carry you up the incline. As you reach the top you can slow down and proceed down the other side slowly and safely.
- Don’t use your cruise control option when driving on any slippery surface (this includes the summer time). Cruise control is designed to maintain a certain speed, if your tires lose traction they will try to make up for the difference and rev the engine causing you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Stay home. If you don’t have to go out, then don’t. I know I would rather stay home with a good book anyways. =)
From all your friends here at MAX Insurance Agency, Inc. have a merry Christmas! Stay safe out there.
Zak started at MAX in October of 2017 and has 3 years of insurance experience, specifically in auto insurance claims. A big sports fan, he spends time cheering on the Wild, Twins, and Vikings. Most of all he enjoys spending time with his family, working with his hands, and doing just about anything outdoors (especially fishing and camping). Zak also volunteers with a local high school youth group and helps to run a networking group for young professionals.