Whether it’s blizzards, whiteouts, sub-zero temperatures, black ice, or freezing rain -- Minnesota has it all. To survive the extremes, Minnesotans have to be both tough and smart. Regardless if you are driving to work or running quick errands, road conditions during the winter months are never predictable.
If this is your first winter in our beloved northern climate, you might be intimidated by winter driving. Don’t worry -- we’ve got you covered with these frequently asked questions.
- Should I get different tires? Snow tires are a good investment for a Minnesota winter. Your regular tires might slide and won’t allow you to brake quickly. Winter tires are like snow boots for your car -- they provide better traction on snow and ice, which can help you brake and steer.
- How do I stop on snow? If the road is snowy or icy, you need to give yourself extra space to stop. This is especially true at intersections -- you don’t want to end up sliding into oncoming traffic. If you have an anti-lock braking system, you will feel your brakes pulsing as you try to stop. Remember not lift your foot -- just hold it down until you stop.
- What if I get stuck? You will most likely get stuck at some point, especially if you drive on deep or slushy snow. Keep calm! Your best plan is to straighten your wheels and try to rock out (pull forward a little, reverse a little, repeat). You can also keep some dirt or cat litter in your car to put behind your tires to help you get traction.
- Can I drive on a frozen lake? You sure can! Ice is never completely safe to drive on, but Minnesotans do it all the time. Just be careful and be sure the ice is frozen solid before you give it a try. The Minnesota Department Of Natural Resources keeps tabs on the ice on lakes, so you can check their website or call them with questions.
- What if I get stranded? This is an extremely important question to ask yourself if you’re going to be driving a long distance in sub-zero temperatures. If you’re stuck in a remote area in a dead car, you could suffer from frostbite, hypothermia, or worse. That’s why it’s smart to have lots of warm winter gear in your car -- including hand warmers. Make sure you always have a charged phone and that someone knows when, and where, you’ll be driving.
Random things you may not know:
- Some automatic windows will freeze if you roll them down when it’s really cold.
- You can plugin your car overnight to keep the engine from freezing up.
- Your gas line may freeze if your gas level is low, so keep it above a quarter tank.
- Remember to let your car warm up before you drive it, otherwise you could cause damage.
- You can actually view real-time driving conditions through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Be smart, be safe, and be proud of toughing out a Minnesota winter!
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