Deadly Monday on roads prompts safe winter travel reminder

More winter weather expected through Wednesday night

Four fatal crashes on snowy and slippery Minnesota roads are a reminder that motorists need to plan ahead and adjust their driving to the weather, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

The four fatal crashes occurred Monday, Dec. 2.

Deadly Monday

• 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 that 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 is 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 is 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.

MnDOT: Don’t Crowd the Plow

  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) 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 that as temperatures drop, ice may form and create slippery spots. Bridges also may become slippery.

HSEM: Prepare Your Winter Weather Emergency Kit

DPS’ 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:

  • 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.
  • Snacks.
  • Cellphone 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.

Extra DWI Enforcement Continues Through December

Law enforcement agencies around the state are adding extra DWI patrols this holiday season in an effort to combat drunk driving-related crashes. The enforcement effort will run through the end of the year.

There were approximately 655 DWI arrests during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend (Nov. 27-Dec. 1).