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It's time to dust off those winter driving skills

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: November 5, 2013 - 11:06 AM

Like it or not, winter is poised to arrive in the Twin Cities and parts of Minnesota tonight with wet, slushy snow. The question is, are you ready? Is your car ready?

Even if this turns out to be a whimper of a snowfall, the long months of cold and snow are not far behind, and now is the time to get your vehicle ready and dust off your winter driving skills, said Matt Hehl of AAA Minneapolis.

First, an emergency road kit is an essential. Here is what AAA recommends

  • Charged phone and either a list of or pre-programmed numbers of family members and emergency services, or rescue apps.  A charger, too.
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Non-perishable snacks for humans and pets
  • Shovel
  • Sand, salt or other material to supply traction
  • Blankets and extra clothing
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Jumper cables
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and adjustable wrench

AAA also reminds motorists to plan on allowing extra time to get to your destination. Accelerating, stopping and turning also take more time, so allow extra room between you and other vehicles. "The normal following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds to provide more time should you need to stop," Hehl said.

When stopping, drivers need to know if they have anti lock brakes or not. The the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal, AAA says.

In slippery conditions, motorists should not use cruise control.  And in the event you do get stranded, stay with your vehicle.

"It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost." Hehl said.

AAA also reminds motorists to check:

  • Air filter
  • Tire treads and pressure
  • Fluids
  • Brakes
  • Lights and headlights
  • Coolant levels
  • Wiper blades and belts
  • Engine hoses

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