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Tips for driving safe when winter hits

According to AAA, at speeds above 25 miles per hour, steering to avoid a collision, if it's safe to do so, is actually preferred to slamming on the brakes.

MINNEAPOLIS — If you're a driving instructor in Minnesota, you know your lessons have to cover a lot. 

"If it was going to be 80 and sunny every day, this would be a much easier job," said Pete Hosmer, owner of A+ Driving School.

Here are some tips from Hosmer and the folks at AAA, for driving in Minnesota's winter conditions:

1. If you start to slide, look where you want to go while you steer: "The instinct is just to grab your steering wheel, slam on the brakes, and stare straight ahead," Hosmer said. "You want to look where you want to go and you want to steer where you want to go."

2. If it's safe, steer: According to AAA, at speeds above 25 miles per hour steering to avoid a collision, if it's safe to do so, is actually preferred to *slamming on the brakes, because when roads are slick that can cause you to lose control. 

"The faster you're going the longer it takes to stop, the longer it takes you to realize that you need to stop, and 25 miles per hour is what we found to be that threshold," said Meredith Terpstra with AAA. "It's simpler to be able to move over and keep going, assuming you can do so safely, than to come to a hard stop in snowy, icy conditions."

Terpstra noted that the 25 miles per hour threshold is for dry driving conditions. She said when there's snow or ice on the roads, it's likely less. 

3. Use "Hand to hand" steering: This method of steering, in which your hands never leave the wheel, you "thread" the wheel between each hand. 

"So no part of my body is between the airbag and my chest," explained AAA driving instructor, Cathy Doyle-Burris.

Cathy Doyle-Burris says it's safer than "hand over hand" steering, in which your arm crosses your body as you reach to turn the wheel.

"Just in case someone hits my vehicle and the airbag goes off, my hands will not come into and injure my face," she explained. "Most likely I [would] fracture my wrist and hand bones against my face."

Of course, the people at AAA and Hosmer both agree that the best way to stay safe when roads are slick is to avoid driving if you don't have to, and if you do need to drive, go slow and leave plenty of time to get where you're going. 

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