Go through the checklist for winter driving

Published 5:37 pm Saturday, February 2, 2013

QUESTION: What is the reminder “checklist” for winter driving in Minnesota?


ANSWER: While winter conditions – snow, cold winds and ice – make driving challenging, safe driving planning and practices can decrease problems and casualties. Here is the safety checklist:

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•It’s the law that drivers use their headlights when it’s raining, sleeting or snowing.

•Drive at safe speeds and increase the stopping distance between vehicles; in poor weather conditions the safe speed is slower than the posted speed signs and law enforcement officers expect drivers to be traveling slower.

•Stay at least 5 car lengths behind a snow plow.

•Move over for emergency responders assisting others on the shoulder of the road; if you can’t change lanes, slow down.

•If your vehicle has ABS anti-lock brakes, do not pump the brake pedal; apply steady, firm pressure to the brake pedal.

•If skidding, ease your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

•All of these items need to be part of the Winter Survival Kit in your car: a scraper brush, a small shovel, jumper cables, a flashlight, a bag of sand or non-clump kitty litter for tire traction, a blanket or sleeping bag, boots, energy bars or chocolate, a bright cloth to tie on the antenna or hang in the window to signal for help. It’s always a good idea to keep your cell phone battery charged.

•For winter-related road condition information call 5-1-1 or visit www.511mn.org.

•Perhaps most importantly, if the weather conditions are too poor, avoid unnecessary travel; don’t risk it.

Talk to your children about the driving precautions you are taking in winter weather. Talk early; talk often.

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles teach first; children and youth learn by watching and talking with the adults in their lives. New drivers have a great advantage if they’ve lived with safe drivers as youngsters.


If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out