Ask a Trooper: Winter driving requires patience

Published 6:14 am Wednesday, November 13, 2019

In the past five years, officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in more than 79,569 crashes (2014-2018). These crashes resulted in 214 traffic deaths and 20,761 injuries.

During the winter, it’s important to drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and give yourself plenty of travel time. State law requires the use of headlights when precipitation is present.

•Increase stopping distance between vehicles. Expect bridges and overpasses to be icy during winter conditions, slow down accordingly and never use cruise control on snowy, icy or wet roads.

Email newsletter signup

•Be aware that roads may be clear of snow and ice, but black ice that is invisible and almost totally transparent can form when the air temperature is warmer than the pavement.

•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. If vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply a steady firm pressure to the brake pedal and never pump ABS brakes.

•Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows. Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

•Your seat belt is your first defense in case of a crash. Always buckle up and be sure child restraints are secured tightly. It is recommended that bulky clothes and blankets are fitted above the child restraint harness, not beneath, to ensure harness restraints fit properly.

•Parents of teen drivers should make sure new motorists experience snow and ice driving in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot. Get your teen as much practice as possible before letting them head out onto the streets.

•No matter what the conditions, drive at safe speeds and be aware that a winter road can pose a danger. Always remember to pay attention, buckle up, drive the speed limit and always drive sober.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,