Winter is coming to northern Minnesota, and that means snow, ice, sleet and potential blizzard conditions due to high winds. When winter weather strikes, even a route that you drive on a regular basis can become treacherous, and failure to account for the conditions can lead to a serious and potentially fatal accident.

Whenever possible, it is best to avoid travel in winter weather. Unfortunately, the reality of Minnesota life is that this is not always practical. If you must drive, you can take precautions that can help you navigate safely and reduce your chances for an accident.

  1. Prepare for an emergency

You should put together a winter survival kit that you can keep in your car in case you become stranded in a snowstorm. It should include water and nonperishable food items, a first-aid kit, a flashlight or candles, flares, matches and blankets. The last item is particularly important to prevent hypothermia while waiting for rescue.

  1. Keep your car in good condition

Winter weather can do a number on certain components, such as the tires, the coolant and the battery. Check these carefully before and during the winter. Also keep your lights, windows and backup camera (if applicable) clear of ice, dirt and snow.

  1. Take your time

Snow and ice on the road reduce your traction. You can counteract this affect by driving slowly.

  1. Avoid using cruise control

Otherwise, you could lose control of the vehicle completely.

  1. Maintain sufficient fuel

At all times, the fuel tank of your vehicle should be at least half full.

  1. Be aware of the weather

Check the weather reports beforehand so you know what to expect. This is especially important on a long-distance trip.

  1. Give yourself more room

In other words, put five to six seconds’ worth of following room between you and the next vehicle. This helps you to avoid a rear-end collision if the other driver stops suddenly.