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It's time to prepare for driving in winter weather again

Kids returning to school, the temperatures dropping and the leaves falling from the trees often signify the end of summer. Before you know it, the weather here in South Dakota turns downright cold, and snow could be in the forecast.

That means that you may need to refresh your memory regarding how to drive in winter weather. You may not have winterized your car yet by having a mechanic give it the once-over, and you may need to put your winter survival and emergency gear back in the trunk. You may also need to remember how to handle your vehicle as you drive on slick, icy and snow-packed roadways.

Tips for staying safe on the road

Now that your vehicle is full of emergency equipment, your tires are properly balanced, rotated and filled with air, you can get out on the road. If the weather does turn bad, and you can't stay home, the following tips may help you stay safe:

  • Avoid using cruise control since you won't have as much control of the vehicle
  • Avoid using the parking brake when you can
  • Avoid quick accelerations and decelerations
  • Avoid stopping while driving uphill
  • Avoid letting your gas tank fall below half a tank
  • Avoid steering and looking in opposite directions
  • Avoid making your following distance less than eight to 10 seconds
  • Avoid driving when visibility is low or non-existent

If you end up stranded, don't get out of your car and try to move it. Instead, put some sort of colored cloth sticking out of a rolled-up window or on your antenna so that someone can see it and rescue you. You may also find it helpful to remember how to get out of a skid.

Tips for when another motorist isn't safe

You may do everything possible to remain safe in winter weather, but another motorist may not. A crash could leave you hospitalized and unable to return to work for some time. Even with medical insurance, your medical expenses could become overwhelming, especially if you aren't earning any income because you are out of work recovering. If you suffer injuries because of another person's negligence, it may be possible to pursue restitution for the monetary losses you incur, but you may want to enlist some experienced advice and assistance.

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