Four fatal crashes on snowy and slippery Minnesota roads Dec. 2 are a reminder motorists need to plan ahead and adjust their driving to the weather, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
The four fatal crashes included the following:
• One person was killed after their car was struck by a jackknifed semitrailer. The semitrailer was traveling eastbound on Interstate 94 in Stearns County when it jackknifed, crossing the median into westbound traffic. The westbound vehicle then struck the semi, killing the driver.
• A motorist traveling northbound on Highway 7 in Big Stone County died after losing control of their vehicle. The vehicle ran off the road and rolled down a steep hill.
• A driver traveling westbound on Highway 210 in Aitkin County was killed when they lost control of their vehicle, which slid sideways into eastbound traffic. The vehicle was struck on the passenger side by an eastbound vehicle.
• A motorist traveling westbound on Sherburne Avenue in Becker Township (Sherburne County) died when their vehicle ran off the road and crashed into a tree. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
“These crashes are tragic reminders we need to be especially cautious when driving during winter weather,” said Lt. Eric Roeske, Minnesota State Patrol. “With more winter weather on the way, we need everyone to drive at safe speeds and provide for plenty of travel time as road conditions can change in an instant.”
In 2012, there were 5,688 crashes on snow- and ice-covered roads in Minnesota. Those crashes resulted in 28 deaths and 3,109 injuries.
Safe winter driving tips
• Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.
• Buckle up, and make sure child restraints are secured. It’s recommended not to use bulky clothing when securing a child in a restraint. Use blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath.
• Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.
• Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.
• If skidding, remain calm, ease foot off the gas, and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.
• Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.
• Headlights must be turned on when it’s snowing or sleeting.
• Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.
• Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.
Don’t crowd the plow
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has its plows out on state roadways clearing snow and applying sand and salt. MnDOT encourages motorists to give plows room to work and to slow down when encountering plows. Motorists also are reminded as temperatures drop, ice may form and create slippery spots. Bridges also may become slippery.
Prepare your winter weather emergency kit
DPS’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management urges motorists to create a winter weather emergency kit for their vehicle in case they become stranded. The kit should include the following:
• Coffee can and small candles and matches to use to melt snow for drinking water.
• Brightly colored bandana or cloth to hang from the vehicle window to signal help is needed.
• Large plastic garbage bags to tie around feet to keep them warm.
• Safety pins to secure the garbage bags.
• Whistle to alert authorities.
• Cell-phone adapter to plug into lighter.
• Plastic flashlight and spare batteries.
• Extra hats, mittens, boots and blankets.
Motorists who are stranded should remain in their vehicle and call 911 for help.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime-victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic-safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
About Office of Traffic Safety
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic-safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
• In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Minnesota, DPS awarded new federal grants totaling more than $8.5 million for regional partners to support overtime traffic-safety enforcement and educational efforts through September 2014.
• OTS projects around 395 traffic deaths for 2013—approximately the same number of traffic deaths that occurred in 2012.
• OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx.
• OTS PSA archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/audio-visual-library/Pages/default.aspx.
• Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/reports-statistics/Pages/Fact-sheets.aspx.