Winter Driving; Are you Prepared? Published Oct. 17, 2020 By Audra Flanagan 148th Fighter Wing DULUTH, Minn. -- With snow and winter weather forecasted in the coming days, it’s important to re-familiarize ourselves with safe winter driving practices. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, snow or icy road conditions were reported in 78,335 crashes between the years 2015-2019. Those crashes resulted in 180 traffic deaths and 19,633 injuries. The Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety recommends the following to stay safe on the road during winter months: Buckle up and make sure child restraints are secured tightly Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions Increase safe stopping distances between vehicles If skidding, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want your vehicle to go Clean snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood and headlights prior to travel 148th Fighter Wing Safety and Occupational Health Manager, Master Sgt. Sean O’Connor, says “every accident, no matter how minor causes undue stress.” O’Connor added that “stress takes our eyes off the mission which impacts readiness too.” Cold weather can affect metal, rubber and other materials in your car. It can reduce the effectiveness of your vehicle battery by 50%. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management recommends making a winter driving survival kit. Winter driving survival kits can include booster cables, basic tools, sand or cat litter, a shovel, blankets, warm clothes, snacks, candles, matches, cell phone charger, flashlight and bottled water. O’Connor encourages people to “remember the 3 Ps of safe winter driving: Prepare, Protect and Prevent,” during this time of year. “Preparing means maintaining your vehicle by checking your battery, tire tread and windshield wipers. Protect, includes the use of safety devices in your vehicle like seat belts and car seats for children. Prevention, starts with slowing down and increasing the distance between cars,” he added.