Cold Weather Driving is Upon Us – Are You Prepared?

December 28, 2017 04:05 PM

As the reality of cold-weather driving sets in Thursday, perhaps it's a good time to point out Minnesotans don't always have it so bad.

For instance, did you know AAA replaces more car batteries in the southern U.S. during the summer than it does in parts north during the winter?

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"What's interesting is hot weather is actually harder on batteries than cold weather," said Gail Weinholzer, AAA Minnesota's director of public affairs. "Extreme hot is more damaging to batteries than extreme cold."

RELATED: Snow, Cold Temperatures Make for Tricky AM Commute

So there's that. Also, drivers don't necessarily have to wait so long before hitting the road, even in extreme cold temperatures.

"When it comes to warming up the car, for engine battery, it really only needs about 30 seconds to a minute," Weinholzer said. "Beyond that you're just doing it for the comfort of the vehicle itself." 

The Minnesota State Patrol reported Thursday that by 10:45 a.m. there had been 478 vehicle crashes statewide as snow and cold temperatures led to slick roadways.

Of those, none involved a fatality or serious injury.

Some of that could be because Minnesota drivers are generally good about preparing their vehicles for days such as Thursday, which Weinholzer says is key.

The three most important things for getting the car ready for cold-weather driving are the battery, the fuel level and tires, Weinholzer says.That means keeping the gas tank above at least a third and making sure tires are properly inflated and have good tread.

"Most people don't necessarily think of tries first," she said. "So tires having proper tread and air pressure is all about having proper control of the vehicle."

And batteries can be tested at auto repair shops, usually at no cost.

RELATED: During Cold Weather, Light Rail Trains Used by Homeless for Warmth

AAA also recommends emergency safety kits that include comfort elements like gloves, boots, a bottle of water, a protein bar and a cell phone for emergency use. Jumper cables and tire pumps could also come in handy.

Weinholzer recommends that if you become stranded with your vehicle, stay with it.

"It's really important, especially in this type of weather, for people not to leave their vehicle in search of help," she said. "It's best to stay in the car, protected from the elements."

Drivers should know whether they have a spare tire, as new vehicles often do not, Weinholzer says. And if your vehicle doesn't have a spare, know whether its tires have a run-flat feature that would allow a pierced tire to go another 50 miles or so. 

Maybe most important to consider regarding cold-weather driving?

Said Weinholzer: "If weather is lousy and you don't have to travel, don't." 

Credits

Michael Oakes

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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