State Patrol Lt. Gordon Shank said that between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., a total of 115 crashes were reported in the metro area, with another 28 vehicles spinning out or leaving the road. Statewide, those numbers jump to 145 crashes with 63 vehicles spinning out or leaving the roadway.
Although there was just a light coating in the communities that received snow, it was enough to help coat roads with a thin layer of ice, creating slippery conditions. Combine that with the fact that drivers aren't yet "winter seasoned," and auto body shops will look forward to their first seasonal spike in business.
As they do each year, the State Patrol is sharing this winter list of driving dos and don'ts with motorists:
• Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.
• Buckle up, and make sure child restraints are secured tightly. It is recommended to use bulky clothes and blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath, to ensure harness restraints fit properly.
• Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.
• Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.
• Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.
• 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. Never pump ABS brakes.
• 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 snow/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. Blanket(s), heavy boots, warm clothing and flashlights are also important, as are storing high-energy foods such as chocolate or energy bars.
• Be sure cell phones are charged for long trips, and inform family of destination plans and schedule.
• If stranded, stay in the vehicle.
• Parents of teen drivers should make sure new motorists experience snow and ice driving in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot.
• For weather-related road condition information, call 5-1-1 or visit www.511mn.org.