How can you improve your chances of escaping accident-free this winter when weather-related car accidents cause more fatalities annually than tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods combined. Winter in Minnesota is a lot of things but scary shouldn’t be one of them.
Learn how to safely get your car under control when black ice and snowy road conditions send you fishtailing and spinning.
What is black ice?
Black ice a transparent coating of ice, found especially on a road or other paved surface, that can lead to hazardous driving conditions. The road may look wet or have a glare but sometimes, you won’t even know you’re driving on it until it’s too late.
Preventing a slide is better than having to correct one!
What to do if your car starts sliding
The best way to get out of a slide is to prevent one from happening in the first place. If you find yourself in a slippery situation, be sure to know the difference between
- Understeering – when your car starts sliding in the same direction as your wheels are turned.
- Oversteering – what happens when your rear wheels lose grip of the road and slide out the opposite direction you are steering. At high speeds, oversteering causes the most crashes.
1. Don’t use your breaks
Your wheels need to be able to turn freely in order for you to regain control and braking can cause you to spin out of control.
2. Turn into the slide
If you find car starting to lose grip from the road and your back tires sliding out from under you, turn your steering wheel in the same direction as the wheels are sliding. For example, if you are driving and the road curves to the right, your rear wheels would slide to the left. To correct the car before you start spinning, turn your steering wheel to the left until your car starts to straighten out. Repeat this procedure until you have regained control of your car.
3. Don’t panic by overcorrecting
When your car begins to slide, it will continue to rotate due to its momentum until you are in a full spin. Overcorrecting will make your car rotate faster than your steering can counter.
Myths about driving on black ice
1. Winter tires, 4WD, AWD, stability control, ABS, & traction control let you drive safely at any speed when roads are icy
The truth is, there is NO tire on the market that will allow you to safely drive on any kind of ice. While all of those features will help with your vehicle’s safety, to some extent, they do not preclude you from losing control on the road.
2. Everyone should own winter tires to prevent accidents
Winter tires can make a big difference when driving on snow but no one is immune to the dangers of losing control on icy roads and bridges.
3. Salt, sand, and snowplows make driving at high speeds 100% safe during icy conditions
MnDOT has approximately 800 snowplows that need to cover 12,000 miles (that’s 30,585 lane miles). Their purpose is strictly to help improve the winter road conditions, not make them perfect. As we’ve experienced in Minnesota, temperatures can dip way below the freezing mark making road salt useless for melting ice. The ideal temperature range for road salt application is a pavement temperature of 15-20° F and above.
Coverage From All Sides
With the odds stacked against you this winter, the best thing you can do is make sure your auto policy has the right amount of coverage in the event of a car accident. We’d be happy to look over your policy to make sure you’re all set before driving another mile on these unpredictable winter roads.
Thom Grubbs is an insurance agent and partner at Pentagon Insurance Agency in Elk River, MN. Outside of work, Thom likes to bowl, fish, spend time with his family, and volunteer at his church. Get in touch with Thom and let him make life a little easier by talking over your insurance situation.
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