Adjust your driving style for Minnesota's winter weather

Frigid temperatures, snow and ice may make you want to hibernate until spring, but more than likely, your life has to go on despite winter weather. That means that you still need to drive to work, the store and many other destinations even in inclement weather.

If you have lived in Minnesota for any length of time, you probably already know that driving here in the winter months requires some adjustments. Changing your driving style and remaining cautious could keep you from ending up in an accident. You can control how you drive in winter weather, but other drivers may not take the necessary precautions to do so safely.

Prepare for hitting the road in the winter

Driving in winter conditions requires preparing your vehicle and consciously adjusting your driving style. The following tips may remind you of how to help keep yourself and your passengers safe:

  • Winterize your car by making sure to take it in for servicing and verify that everything works properly.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread.
  • Leave a little earlier to give yourself extra time.
  • Reduce your speed to allow more time to stop if necessary.
  • Leave more distance between you and the car in front of you. Even an extra second to stop could make all the difference.
  • Remain mindful that shady spots, overpasses and bridges could be icy.
  • Make sure you have your cellphone with you for emergencies, but don't use it while driving.
  • Keep your windows clear of snow and ice so that you can see.
  • Keep your gas tank full since doing so helps prevent your gas line from freezing.
  • Make sure your tailpipe is clear of snow and ice. Carbon monoxide could get into the cabin of your vehicle otherwise.
  • Try not to slam on your brakes since it could cause you to slide and lose control of your vehicle.
  • Turn on your headlights regardless of the time of day. Even if it doesn't help you see, it helps you to be seen by other motorists.
  • Rock your vehicle back and forth if you get stuck instead of spinning the wheels.

It's also better to remain behind a snowplow rather than try to pass it. You could run into the blades because you can't see them due to the snow they kick up, and the road behind the plow may be clear enough to travel.

You followed these tips, but still ended up injured

Even though you follow the above recommendations and do what you can to drive safely, other motorists may not be as careful. Their negligence could cause you serious injuries. While you are hospitalized and working to recover from those injuries, your medical bills mount and you lose income to pay them and support yourself and your family.

Minnesota law allows you to pursue compensation for those monetary losses, along with other damages such as pain and suffering. Before accepting any insurance settlements or attempting to work out the situation on your own, you may want to consider scheduling a consultation with an attorney who can explain your rights and provide you with your legal options. If filing a personal injury claim is appropriate, he or she can also guide you through the process.

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