Ice and snow make Minnesota roadways deadly during winter

Winter driving can be hazardous in Minnesota.

Winter can be a magical time in our state. Dangling icicles give trees and rooftops a sleek sheen. A fresh coat of snow makes everything look crisp and white. Snowmobilers, skiers and ice fishermen take advantage of the state's natural refuges to engage in some outdoor activity.

There is a big downside to this time of year, though. When the snow flies, it may seem like bad drivers come crawling out of the woodwork across Minnesota. That likely isn't the case; the bad drivers were always there, but their poor choices and behaviors are simply magnified by treacherous road and weather conditions in the wintertime. This is perhaps best illustrated with an example.

We all know, thanks to public safety campaigns which include television commercials, print ads and radio spots, that driving while distracted is dangerous to yourself and other motorists, in part because it can result in a significantly reduced reaction time. When the roadways are icy or the snow is falling, and visibility is already limited, it takes longer to brake your vehicle. Once you add a driver's delayed reactions to upcoming hazards (like stalled traffic, snowplows or drifting snow that covers road surfaces with a slick surface) with the vehicle's wintertime limitations, it becomes more likely that an accident will occur.

Thankfully, just because other drivers aren't attuned to their surroundings or are reckless with the way in which they operate their vehicles, it doesn't mean you are doomed to be involved in an accident with one. There are ways to keep yourself safe in the wintertime and hopefully decrease the chance that you'll be injured in a crash.

Winter safety tips

It is important to properly maintain your vehicle all year long, but never more so than in the depths of winter. Minnesota's harsh winter climate comes with below-freezing temperatures and ice on roadways, parking lots and exit ramps. Ensuring that your brakes are properly functioning and that you have adequate tread on your tires will give your vehicle the ability to stop and start much easier on iced surfaces. Should you become stuck in the snow, because either your vehicle slid off the roadway or you have been involved in an accident, having a well-maintained engine will allow you to stay warm until help arrives; it will also decrease the chances that your vehicle will stall in traffic.

Practicing good winter driving habits will also help keep you safe. Never drive after drinking, and make sure you keep your eyes and attention focused on the road; these are good habits to practice year-round, but are particularly helpful in the winter. To give yourself adequate time to stop, you should increase your following distance on slick road surfaces, and you should always adjust your speed according to weather and traffic conditions. Also, should your vehicle start to skid, steer into the skid, slowly take your foot off the gas and maintain firm pressure on your brakes - without slamming on them - until you can regain control.

Even if you take all the proper precautions and you operate your vehicle in a safe manner, another driver's negligent behavior could still result in an injury-causing crash. If you have been hurt in an accident caused by another person, you may be able to bring a legal claim to hold him or her responsible. For more information about your legal rights, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney at the Woodbury law offices of Harper and Peterson, P.L.L.C. Call the firm toll-free at 800-779-1466 or send an email today.