NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — In North Dakota, we get about six months of snow and cold weather. So, knowing how to properly drive in the winter months is crucial when living here.
Winter weather can cause the roads to ice up and it can be hard to see when driving to your destination.
Sergeant Wade Kadrmas, with the North Dakota State Highway Patrol, said that motorists can be caught off guard once the temperatures start to drop and the roads get icy.
“You might come upon black ice, and not have time to slow down. So, the good advice would be to just slow down in the winter. Normally if you drive 75 on the interstate, drive 70, drive 65. Just slow down. Slowing down really helps,” explained Kadrmas.
He also says it’s good to increase your following distance as well because it can take longer to stop on wet or slippery roads, and it doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you have.
“It doesn’t matter if you have four-wheel drive, two-wheel drive, or rear-wheel drive when it’s icy out. Ice is ice and it treats all vehicles the same. Those types of vehicles may give you better traction in the snow when you’re trying to make it through snow-covered highways, but when it comes to ice, everything slides,” said Kadrmas.
Although you may not be traveling far, it is still important to equip yourself and your vehicle with the proper safety supplies in case of any emergency.
We sat down with KX’s very own meteorologist, Amber Wheeler, to find out more about what she does to keep herself safe on the roads during the winter.
“My husband and I like to pack our coveralls. So, if we do need to get out and maybe do some shoveling, we are fully protected. You want to make sure you have your snow boots with you even if you’re not driving with them. Of course, a hat and gloves to protect your extremities, anything that I can do to give myself layers. And I also keep a blanket in my backseat,” said Wheeler.
If something does happen, and you find yourself on the side of the road, what should you do?
For starters, pull off to the side so you don’t get hit by other motorists, and also make sure that you aren’t running the car continuously to preserve gas. Never leave your vehicle.
“You want to turn it on maybe once an hour for about ten to fifteen minutes to heat your car. Make sure you also have a little bit of a crack in your window because you want to make sure you’re not getting any kind of carbon monoxide from the engine in your vehicle. And then, turn your dome light on when you have the engine running, so that way, if it’s dark, folks can see you or you can be seen from a road,” explained Wheeler.
During the winter months, make sure that you have extra layers handy, a shovel or kitty litter, extra snacks and water, and a roadside emergency kit in case you do get stuck on the side of the road.
Other things that someone can keep handy when driving is an extra can of gas, a charged phone, and even a tin coffee can with a candle. The tin can, along with the lit candle, acts as a heater for your vehicle.
Most importantly, before going anywhere, always be sure to buckle up your seatbelt.