Winter driving tips offered

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 19, 1999

From staff reports

Slippery roads are back, just in time for the holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 1999

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Slippery roads are back, just in time for the holidays. During this past week’s first bout of wintry weather, three people died on roads slickened by new snow in the state.

As such, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers some winter driving tips to help everyone make it to their holiday destinations safely.

In addition to the basic safe driving habits practiced all year long – buckling up, driving alert and sober, and driving at a safe and legal speed – there are special precautions that need to be followed during the winter months. These include:

* Make sure your car is ready for the season. Throughout the winter, keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze.

* Avoid traveling, especially alone, if severe weather is threatening. Before taking a trip, inform someone at your destination of your expected arrival time and your travel route.

* Stock your car with basic winter driving equipment: a scraper and brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Also include road flares, a blanket, and a flashlight with batteries. Keep an emergency survival kit in the car.

*&160;If your car has been outside during a snowfall, brush all the snow off before starting out. Pay particular attention to cleaning off headlights and tail lights so that other motorists can see you.

*&160;Adjust your speed to the conditions and increase following distances. Remember that bridges and overpasses can be more slippery than other parts of the road.

* If you begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have an anti-lock braking system apply a steady firm pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump ABS brakes.

* If even after following all precautions you find yourself stranded, stay calm and stay put. Staying in your car will decrease your risk of frostbite or hypothermia and increases your chances of being rescued. Run your engine for heat about once an hour, every half hour in extreme cold. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear to prevent the back up of carbon monoxide. Leave one window slightly open. Tie a piece of brightly colored cloth to your antenna to alert others and aid rescuers.

* Consider keeping a cellular phone for use during emergencies.