Driving on thin ice: know when to slow down

Michael McShane
News Editor

With winter weather finally hitting Minnesota, it’s time for motorists to brace for more than snowstorms.

While having to deal with an ice-cold steering wheel and the cold, dead car engine can be irritating, they aren’t the biggest problem some drivers will have to face when driving – it’s ice.

Ice is a double-edged sword in a state like Minnesota. For some, ice can mean ice rinks and skating, but to others it means car accidents and, well, accidents in general. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve busted your knee steeping on some ice while you were walking out of your house.

But while falling down from stepping on ice can be painful, driving on the road while its covered in ice can be downright terrifying.

You can’t really forget the feeling you get when you spin out in the middle of the road. It’s almost like a badge of honor to represent you living through such a horrifying event.

A horrifying event that is completely avoidable if you do the right things when driving during winter season. Starting off with my most important tip – there is no shame in going slow.

What I’ve learned driving through Mankato, especially at night, is that there are many motorists who find that they must make sure their time on the road is short and rush to their destination. 

There are experienced drivers who can traverse through the snow and ice with ease like it’s an everyday occurrence. But the majority are not like that, especially in a college town full of young adults. 

Going slow will undoubtedly make the people behind you angry and want to honk or find a way past you. The most important lesson I’ve learned on the road is that while it is courteous to look out for the cars behind you, your life takes priority over their ability to get from point a to point b.

Never drive fast with ice on the road, but if you must, do it controlled and slow down every now and then. The times most people spin out when there is ice on the ground is when they are switching lanes, turning and even slowing down if you’re going fast enough.

That comes to my next tip – if you do happen to spin out in the middle of the road, don’t continue driving. I’m not saying just stay neutral in the middle of the road, but if you happen to spin out and not come into impact with any other car – do not drive. 

It is better for you in the long run to regain yourself and drive out into a parking lot on the side of the road, anywhere where you can safely calm yourself. You just went through a really scary event, so you’re most likely heavily breathing or trying to comprehend what you just went through. Of course, if you do hit a car, you must stop, speak to, and exchange information with the other driver or else you could face a hit-or-run charge which is much worse than spinning out in the first place.

Header photo courtesy of Flickr.

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