Your Guide to Winter Driving in Minneapolis
Ask most people about their idea of a relaxing afternoon, and the answer probably won’t include white-knuckling down the interstate in a rush hour blizzard or shoveling out their car during a snow emergency. But as residents of the coldest major city in the United States know, these are regular parts of life in Minneapolis during the four or five coldest months of the year. And while there’s no way to stop the arctic plunge that’s visited on the Twin Cities each year, there are ways to stay safe, avoid getting towed, and not let Old Man Winter get the best of you and your ride.
Know the Minneapolis Snow Emergency Rules
Familiarizing yourself with the Minneapolis snow emergency rules is critical to avoid being towed or ticketed, as well as just being a good neighbor. While it can seem confusing at first, Minneapolis’s snow emergency protocol is fairly straightforward once you get the hang of it. Keep in mind that “odd” or “even” side of the street simply refers to whether the addresses end in an odd or even number.
- Day 1: From 9 P.M. to 8 A.M. on the first day of a snow emergency, don’t park on either side of the street. Snow emergency routes will have signs designating them as such. Once the street is fully plowed, feel free to park on either side.
- Day 2: From 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. on the second day of a snow emergency, no cars can be parked on the even side of the street on snow emergency routes. There’s also no parking on either side of any Minneapolis parkway.
- Day 3: From 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. on the third day of a snow emergency, there’s no parking on the odd side of the street. Again, once a street is fully plowed, you’re free to park on it during a snow emergency.
Check Road Signs
Unsure whether the street you’re parked on is a snow emergency route or not? There are two easy ways to tell. One is the snow emergency route signs that are conspicuously posted along Minneapolis snow emergency streets. Another, less obvious way to tell is the color of the street sign: blue street signs mean the street is a snow emergency route.
Get Alerts and Information about Snow Emergencies
These days, it’s easy to stay in-the-know about when a snow emergency is in place. The Minneapolis city government has a section of its website dedicated to snow emergency news and rules. They also have a snow emergency Twitter account, facebook page, and text/email alerts option.
How to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather
- Batteries: Check your battery’s charge and replace it if needed.
- Tires: Check the pressure and tread of your tires before taking your car out on icy or snowy roads.
- Brakes: Replace brake fluid and worn pads,
- Wipers: Replace your old wipers, and make sure wiper fluid is full.
- Exhaust: Check your exhaust system for any apparent leaks or blockages.
- Lights: Test all of your vehicle’s lights to ensure they’re operating at full capacity. If not, replace bulbs.
Pack the Essentials: Winter Vehicle Supply Checklist
While you may never need them, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of caution and pack a complete list of winter driving essentials that could come in handy in a pinch.
- Ice scraper and snow shovel
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables and tow chain
- Gloves and blanket
- Flashlight and road flares
- Non-perishable snack food
- Phone charger
- Bag of sand for tire traction
Follow these Safe Winter Driving Tips
- Never use cruise control when driving in wintry conditions. When roads are slick and visibility low, it’s more important than ever to be ready to stop at a moment’s notice. Using cruise control, while safe in normal driving conditions, can increase the time it takes to brake. When negotiating slippery driving surfaces, it’s important to be actively ready to change speeds.
- Take extra care driving on bridges and overpasses. As most people who’ve lived and driven in a cold climate know, black ice is a real problem on bridges and overpasses. The fact that cold air can surround the bridge surface on all sides causes the pavement to cool more rapidly than on ground, producing a thin but dangerous layer of ice. Before it collapsed, Minneapolis’s I-35W bridge was considered the MSP metro area’s most dangerous winter driving spot due to frequent black ice accumulation.
- Don’t panic if you feel your car begin to slide. Overcorrecting when your vehicle feels like it’s beginning to slide can be even more dangerous than the initial loss of control. Instead of going along with your initial urge to slam on the brakes and jerk the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the slide, let off the gas and turn gradually in the direction the backside of the car is spinning. Once you’ve straightened out, it’s okay to slowly rejoin the flow of traffic.
- Do everything slower in wintry conditions. Whether it’s accelerating, braking, cruising, or turning, do it slower in winter weather. One of the most common and preventable causes of winter driving accidents is simply driving too fast. Remember that driving on icy or snowy roads often means driving well below the speed limit. In Minnesota, speeding tickets can be given to drivers deemed to be driving too fast for conditions, even if they’re going at or below the speed limit.