MnDOT Stresses Traffic Safety in Snow

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 at 6:59 am

ST. PAUL, Minn.-Difficult driving conditions caused by slippery roads, continued snowfall, high winds and falling temperatures prompt the Minnesota Department of Transportation to urge drivers to fully engage their winter driving skills– and attitudes– when traveling this week.

Driving conditions are the most severe in a band across the central portion of the state from the North Dakota border to the Twin Cities and Rochester.

The National Weather Service reports wind gusts as high as 25 miles an hour in some areas which lowers visibility and makes driving difficult.

Mn/DOT urges drivers to use extreme caution, especially when driving near snowplows and other emergency vehicles.

Since the first storms of this winter, the department recorded more than 20 collisions involving snowplows, FIRST highway responders and other maintenance vehicles.

Mn/DOT reminds drivers that the state’s Ted Foss “move over” law requires them to move over one lane, if possible, when emergency vehicles, snowplows, and wreckers are operating.

“When lights start flashing, it’s time for motorists to move one lane over or slow down and allow extra room for emergency vehicles,” said Bob Winter, Mn/DOT’s director of operations. “Observing the law increases safety for snowplow crews, utility workers, police officers and the motorists themselves.”

Mn/DOT also advises drivers to keep aware of changing road and weather conditions by tuning to KBEM Traffic Radio in the Twin Cities (88.5FM), Weather Service updates and using the agency’s 511 Travel Information System.

511 Traveler Information System reports are available by calling 5-1-1 from any phone or visiting the Web site at www.511mn.org.

Drivers should follow these steps for safe winter driving:

Slow down.
Allow at least five car lengths between your vehicle and a snowplow.
Test road surfaces frequently by tapping brakes to check for icy conditions.
Turn on headlights and turn off cruise control settings.
Stay behind a snowplow. The road behind the plow is the safest place to drive.
Keep aware of black ice conditions on surfaces such as bridge decks and entrance and exit ramps.

Additional driving safety tips are available on Mn/DOT’s Web site at:
www.dot.state.mn.us and clicking on the “Stay Back; Stay Alive” box.

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