The season's first significant snow of the winter comes with these reminders from the Minnesota Department of Transportation: Slow down, exercise patience and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and others. That includes snowplows.
With up to 5 inches of snow possible in the metro area by the end of the weekend, MnDOT has its arsenal of trucks ready to hit the roads. Crews will be at the ready all weekend, said spokesman Kent Barnard.
But drivers will have to do their part to keep the roads safe.
“We all must get back into winter driving mode, which means increasing caution and patience while reducing distractions,” said MnDOT acting commissioner Bernie Arseneau. “To keep themselves safe and the highways open, motorists need to stay at least five car lengths away from snowplows and give the plows time to remove the snow.”
Last year there were 21 crashes involving vehicles colliding with snowplows. Most of them were caused by inattentive drivers, motorists passing to close to plows or motorists driving too fast for the conditions, Arseneau said.
Crews will be on the roads for the duration of the storm, Barnard said. The best advice, he said, is to stay off the roads until conditions improve. But if drivers must go out, "don't tailgate, keep speeds down and give us room to work."
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety also reminds drivers to have the proper equipment with them, and be prepared in the event of an emergency or crash.
Equip vehicles with a scraper/brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain, and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Blanket(s), heavy boots, warm clothing and flashlights are also important, as are storing high-energy foods such as chocolate or energy bars.
The department echos MnDOT's plea for motorists to drive at safe speeds, and not to use crusie control. Above all, it reminds all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts.