Staying Safe on Twin Cities Roads During Winter | Prior Lake News
Winter conditions came into effect last Friday and the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Public Safety are reminding residents to stay safe on the roads when traveling this holiday season.
Anne Meyer, spokesperson for MnDOT, said that although the department prepares for winter storms, snowfall can be unpredictable.
“The dilemma is that storms are fun. They often change as they happen, so we do our best to plan, but we are always aware that storms can change in various ways,” said Meyer. . “So we’re constantly adjusting this variable, the unknowns.”
Meyer said the December 10 winter storm was the biggest of the season so far, with some areas seeing as much as a foot of snow – and while Minnesota is no stranger to snow, it safety is always important to keep in mind.
“With this particular storm the snow was a lot heavier than what we’ve seen so far with long durations of snow as well. Some places probably saw an inch of snow in an hour,” said Meyer. “It’s one of the most severe snowstorms so far this season, which is no stranger to the Minnesotans. It’s nothing new to us.”
According to the National Weather Service, in Carver County, 10 inches of snowfall was reported in Chaska through Saturday, December 11. Chanhassen saw a total of 9 inches of snow and 8.5 inches at Chaska. In Scott County, Prior Lake saw 19 inches of snow throughout the weekend, 17.7 inches in Jordan, 16.5 inches in Savage and 16 inches in Shakopee.
The heaviest snowfall was seen from the southwest to the east of the Twin Cities Metro, with amounts dropping dramatically as you move north of Twin Cities, according to NWS.
Meyer said the state’s snowplows are on 24/7, ensuring all major roads are clean and safe for travelers and commuters, including Scott County highways. and Carver.
“We have 800 snowplows statewide, but in the Twin Cities metro of the 800 snowplows, 200 snowplows are in the metro area, including the southern metro,” she said. declared. “Typically, because we have more traffic in these areas, we keep the snowplows on the road 24/7 if needed. The drivers work 12 hours and a new driver will come to keep the plow on the road and they will continue to do so. until they keep the roads clear to restore them to good condition for travelers. “
Each year Scott and Carver counties witness weather-related accidents, but did you know the summer months are the deadliest on Minnesota’s roads? This is according to the DPS.
Although the summer months are the deadliest, winter is the cause of the most accidents and presents risks and dangers to safety. From 2015 to 2019, officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in more than 78,335 crashes statewide. These accidents killed 180 on the roads and injured 19,644.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly saw fewer vehicles on the road. According to Minnesota State Patrol and MPR News, Traffic volume through Minnesota began to decline almost as soon as Governor Tim Walz declared a state of “peacetime emergency” due to COVID-19 on March 13. In one week, statewide average traffic was 30% lower than traffic levels at the same time in 2019 Since then, it has remained well below 2019 levels, including some days when traffic was lower by over 66% at last year’s levels.
According to DPS data, a total of 568 crashes were reported on Highway 169 in Scott County from January 1, 2018 to December 10, 2021. Of those 568 crashes, 140 were injured and two fatalities were reported. The months of January saw the highest number of accidents, with a total of 146, followed by the months of December with a total of 116. Most of the accidents occurred on a clear day, totaling 221 accidents, while 164 accidents occurred in the snow.
Highway 212 experienced a total of 240 accidents from January 1, 2018 to December 10, 2021. Of these 240 accidents, 57 were injured and 3 were fatal. February saw the highest number of accidents, with a total of 54, followed by November, which reported 48 accidents. As on Route 169, most collisions on Route 212 occurred on a clear day, while 55 collisions occurred due to snow-related incidents.
Safety tips for winter driving
Scott Wasserman, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said knowing the weather and road conditions before hitting the road in winter is important and there are several ways to do it.
Here are some of his safety tips:
- Stay home if possible.
- Leave early.
- Slow down and drive up to road conditions.
- Increase the driving distance between vehicles.
- Put the distractions away.
- Headlights on.
- Make sure your gas tank is full.
- Drive smart by slowing down, buckling up, driving distraction-free, and always maintaining sober driving.
- Fasten your seat belt and make sure the child restraints are secure. It is recommended that bulky clothing and blankets be used above the child restraint harness, not underneath, to ensure that the child restraint harnesses are properly adjusted.
- Take extra care when driving around plows by keeping at least five car lengths behind the plows.
- Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.
- Do not use cruise control on snowy / icy / wet roads.
- Equip vehicles with a scraper / brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain, and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Blankets, thick boots, warm clothes, and flashlights are also important, as is the storage of high-energy foods like chocolate or energy bars.
- Parents of teenage drivers should ensure that new motorists experience driving on snow and ice in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot.
Meyer added that for more information on weather conditions call 5-1-1 or visit www.511mn.org. The weather information system 511 is also downloadable on any smartphone.
“The 5-1-1 app is a winter driving information system,” she said. “It’s a useful tool that I encourage everyone to look at before driving.”