5 Tips to Be a Better Winter Driver

Whether you’re a Minnesota lifer or a recent transplant, the perils of frozen roads are an annual trial. Here are winter motoring tips from Adam Newbloom, owner and lead instructor of Rochester’s Enhanced Driving Institute.

  1. Get the right tires—“Even the cheapest winter tire is going to outperform the best all-season tire, because their design is totally different,” says Newbloom. Because of their makeup, winter tires actually grab the snow.
     
  2. Look ahead—Get used to looking twice as far ahead than in warm-weather conditions, he says: “Most accidents are rear-end collisions, or people taking a turn too fast and sliding into a ditch.”
     
  3. Prepare for the worst—Accidents will happen, but be smart. “If you end up in a ditch, the first thing to do is stay in your car,” he says. “If it’s a high-traffic situation, you don’t want to risk somebody else losing control. And make sure you have a winter safety kit with a warm blanket and plenty of fluids.”
     
  4. Know your vehicle—When your wheels start to spin, Newbloom explains, your car has sensors that transfer power between the wheels. “That can give people a false sense of traction,” he adds. “It could be an advantage or a disadvantage if you don’t know how to use it.”
     
  5. Lose control to gain control—Test your car to see how it responds under pressure. “Go out into a wide-open parking lot and test your braking system,” he says. “Stomp on the gas and see what happens. Take a turn too fast and feel what happens. Know what it feels like to lose control, so it’s not a panic situation when you actually do.”

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