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Senator: Be Prepared for Winter Driving

State Sen. Chuck Wiger encourages drivers to be mindful of snowplows and other winter driving hazards this season.

Wintertime is here! As we gear up for snowmobiling, skating, skiing, snowshoeing and sledding we also need to refocus on driving in poor winter weather conditions.

Thankfully, we have an ally working daily to keep the roads clean and clear. The Department of Transportation (MnDOT) deploys about 800 snowplows and reserve trucks which work to plow approximately 12,000 miles of state highways and interstates throughout the state.

Drivers need to be mindful of plows on the road. A fully equipped truck may weigh 15 times more than an average car. For your own safety, the safety of the plow drivers and other cars on the road please consider the following points from MnDOT’s “Snowplowing Facts”:

Snowplows travel much slower than the posted speed limit, because it is most effective for clearing roads. The plowdriver’s field of vision is severely restricted behind the truck, and the driver must rely on mirrors to see the rear and side of the truck. 

MnDOT offers these safe winter driving tips for motorists:

  • Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
  • Turn off your cruise control.
  • Slow down; allow at least five car lengths between your vehicle and a plow. 
  • Stay behind the snowplow. The road behind a snowplow is safer to drive on.
  • Watch for snowplows that turn or exit frequently, and often with little warning.
  • Never drive into a snow cloud.
  • Call 511 or visit www.511mn.org before leaving on your trip to get current road conditions information.

Please listen to Mn/DOT’s motto, “Stay Back Stay Alive”. We need to assume that plow drivers cannot see us. Stay back a safe distance so you have time to react to the traffic in front of you. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, so stay off your phone, tune your radio when you are stopped at a stoplight, and above all pay attention.

In case you do find yourself in a bad situation, make sure you have an emergency kit in your car. Items in the kit could include: water, food, blankets or extra jackets, flashlights, first aid kit, light sticks, emergency candles and a shovel.

Finally, I would like to thank county workers for their efforts in ice and snow removal. It is a 24/7 service that is highly appreciated.

As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue.  Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment.  Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.

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