Snowy weather is a time to commiserate with your neighbors about how much everyone hates winter driving. To put it plainly: it sucks.
Unfortunately, some use this as an excuse to drive like an inconsiderate maniac and put everyone around them in more danger than necessary. Winter generally sees an uptick in the overall number of crashes, with officers citing snowy or icy conditions in tens of thousands of wrecks every year.
So consider this an annual reminder: Here are five things you should do when driving while it's snowy.
Slow. The. Heck. Down.
We get it. A trip takes twice as long as it should and that's frustrating. But when you're traveling at a high speed on a slippery road, it's harder to stop and more difficult to keep in control of your vehicle.
As the Department of Public Safety puts it, don't drive to the posted speed limit — drive to conditions.
Keep your distance
As mentioned in the tip above, it takes longer to stop when conditions are snowy. (And yes, this also applies to vehicles with 4-wheel drive.) Keep more distance than normal between your vehicle and the one in front of you, so you have time to react to any sudden changes.
Nobody likes to be tailgated when conditions are good, so don't do it when it's snowy either.
Get all the snow — repeat, all the snow — off your car
First off, it's illegal to drive with snow obstructing your view through the vehicle's windows. Second, it's dangerous, and not just because it limits your field of vision.
Unswept snow can block your headlights, tail lights or side mirrors, reducing visibility. Plus, both snow and ice can fly off a vehicle while on the road, flying into the cars behind it and potentially sending a chunk through a windshield.
This one is simple. State law requires drivers to have their headlights turned on if it's snowing or sleeting (or raining). Even if it's just a light flurry or downfall.
Passing snowplows is a bad idea
Scooching around a snowplow isn't illegal. But it's also not a great idea. Drivers can only see behind them with their side mirrors, and can turn, exit or change lanes with little warning. They also have wing plows that extend 2-10 feet out on either side.
MnDOT suggests staying 10 car lengths behind a plow, and says to never drive into a snow cloud. If you do have to pass a plow, try to wait until the plow driver pulls over to allow for vehicles to get by.