There are more than enough hazards on the road on a sunny day. Imagine if you have to drive through inclement weather or navigate steep hills.
Not only that, there’s dealing with animals on the road, too.
And as much as you’d like, you can’t avoid going out in these conditions.
This is why it’s best to know what to do whenever you run into them.
Here, we’re giving you some safe driving tips as you go through the different Minnesota road conditions.
Tips for Driving Through Minnesota Road Conditions
We’ll give you tips on how to drive safely through:
- Heavy rain or fog
- Narrow roads and hills
Let’s get to the details.
Safety Tips for Driving in Winter
What makes winter driving a challenge?
Weather can significantly affect driving conditions. So when winter comes along, you may encounter hazards you typically wouldn’t if it were another season.
For example, snow and ice may build up on roads, making the surface slippery. You’re more likely to have difficulty controlling your car. In turn, you might experience skidding.
MoneyGeek conducted a study about winter driving and found Minnesota to be the 16th most dangerous state for it.
What can you do?
Yes, driving during winter presents more hazards, but there are more than enough ways to ensure your safety.
Here are some strategies to apply during icy weather.
1. Adapt Your Driving Behavior
Snow can lessen your visibility, so remove it from your car’s windshield and windows before getting behind the wheel. Also, ensure that you have antifreeze in your windshield wiper fluid.
When you’re ready to hit the road, try to do the following:
- Test out the road. Don’t drive the way you usually do. Test your brakes to see how your car responds.
- Reduce your speed. Icy roads make slippery surfaces, so going slower can help you avoid skidding.
- Avoid using cruise control. You’re better off manually controlling your vehicle’s movement. Accelerate and brake as you see fit based on road conditions and other drivers’ behaviors.
- Don’t panic. Getting stuck in the ice can be nerve-wracking. However, rocking your car back and forth (making micro movements forwards and backward) can help you free it. If you feel yourself skidding, take your foot off the gas until you can turn your vehicle in the direction you want. Do not slam on the brakes.
- Stay alert. Don’t drive if you’re exhausted or drowsy. If you start zoning out while driving, engage in activities that can wake you up, like listening to the radio, talking to your passengers, or singing out loud. Pull over for a while if these all appear ineffective.
2. Heed Parking Rules
Sometimes the weather gets so bad that the local government may announce a snow emergency. They may apply different parking rules as workers try to get the snow off the roads.
When this happens, ensure that you follow the updated regulations. You may have to pay fines if you violate them. Worse, they may tow your car.
3. Dealing with Snowplows
A snowplow is one of the most effective ways to get snow and ice off the streets faster. However, sharing the road with them can be dangerous.
Keep the following things in mind if you see a snowplow on the road with you:
- Keep your distance. Following a snowplow too closely makes you more likely to get hit by ice, snow, and sanding materials.
- Expect less visibility. Snowplows may create clouds that obscure your vision. It’ll prevent you from seeing any obstructions and potential hazards on the road.
- Expect slow speed. Snowplows move slowly, so it might become tempting to pass them. You can do that, but be extra careful.
- Give them space. Snowplows sometimes need to turn around, especially in residential areas. Avoid crowding it so that it has enough space to do its job.
4. Always Have a Survival Kit in Your Car
You know what they say — hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Having a winter survival kit in your car assures you that you’ll be in a better position to deal with your car breaking down or getting stranded.
Here are some things you must have with you at all times:
- A shovel
- Tow chains and tire chains
- Jumper cables
- Road flares or reflectors
- A container of sand or salt
- Warm clothing and footwear
- Food and water
- Objects to help start a fire, such as matches or a lighter
- A first aid kit
Safety Tips for Driving in Heavy Rain or Fog
How does heavy rain or fog make driving a challenge?
Like snow and ice, rain can make roads slippery, making skidding and hydroplaning more likely.
Driving through fog comes with its own problems, too. It may significantly reduce visibility — the less you can see your surroundings, the more likely you’ll get into an accident.
What can you do?
Here are some safety tips you can follow.
1. Dealing with Fog
Your headlights provide the most help when visibility is low. Remember, you should turn them on even during the day if you can’t see more than 500 meters in front of you.
With fog, low beams work best. They cut through the haze and reduce glare.
However, in worst-case scenarios, pull over until visibility increases.
2. Dealing with Heavy Rain
Hydroplaning is more likely to occur when it’s raining hard. When your tires no longer touch the road’s surface, you won’t have any control over it.
When you feel this happening, panicking is the worst option possible. Your instinct might be to step on the brakes, but getting your foot off the accelerator is better. It naturally slows you down and, after a while, allows you to steer your vehicle in your preferred direction.
Although traveling at a higher speed makes skidding or hydroplaning more likely, remember that it can happen even if you’re only at 35 mph. To avoid it, ensure your tires are in good condition. Also, it’s better if you drive slower than usual.
Safety Tips for Driving on Narrow Roads and Hills
Why is it more challenging to drive on narrow roads and hills?
If a road hazard suddenly appears while you’re driving, you may be able to avoid it if you can react fast enough. The quickest drivers sometimes swerve to get their car out of harm’s way.
But you won’t have that same amount of space on a narrow road. You might end up in a ditch if you attempt to swerve and a speeding vehicle is coming toward you.
Hills are another matter. Gravity ceases to become your friend — if you’re not careful, it may cause your car to move backward when you’re going up or speed up when you’re going down.
Either way, controlling your vehicle becomes more difficult.
What can you do?
Narrow roads usually come with curves. If there are trees and brushes, it may hide oncoming vehicles from view. Honking your horn when you approach it is an effective way of warning others of your presence.
Keep an eye on your odometer when you’re traveling on a hill. It’ll tell you when you need to step on the gas or brake.
If you’re going down, your speed will likely increase even if you don’t do anything. You may need to brake early to ensure you have enough stopping distance before the car in front of you.
Safety Tips for Driving with Deers
How do deers make driving a challenge?
Imagine driving along a road and suddenly finding a deer on your path. That’s the thing about it — it seemingly appears from nowhere. And sometimes, it makes a collision inevitable.
Deers also travel in herds, so if you see one, others are likely nearby.
What can you do?
Expect deers to be on the road after dusk, when they’re more likely to appear. Scan the sides of the road — your lights will reflect on their eyes, giving you an idea of where they are.
If there are deers present, begin slowing down. Use your horn and, if necessary, prepare to stop.
Remember, once you encounter a deer, don’t be surprised if you see others out there.
Safety Tips for Driving Through Flood
How does a flood make driving a challenge?
Turning around is a better option than driving through flood water. It may seem inefficient, but it can save you from several hazards.
Flood water may seem shallow, so most drivers decide to move forward. When they’re halfway through, they realize how deep it is. Unfortunately, at this point, some water may have gotten into the engine, leaving them stranded.
Engine stalls in only one possibility. There’s also getting swept away or electrocuted from downed wires.
What can you do?
Here are several ways to deal with flooded areas when you’re driving:
- Consider an alternative route.
- Practice caution, especially at night.
- Six inches of water is enough to get into your engine. Driving through that depth may cause your engine to stall.
- Two feet of water is enough to carry your car away. If the water level reaches that height, don’t attempt to drive through it.
- Flood water may damage road surfaces. You may encounter unseen hazards if you move forward, such as dips.
- If there’s no other way to your destination, find higher ground and wait for the water to subside before continuing.
The Wrap Up
A lot of things can happen on the road — and driving on Minnesota’s roadways may expose you to various hazards.
However, these road conditions are far from unmanageable.
Knowing what to expect and, more importantly, what to do can help you keep safe.