WILLMAR — As of approximately 3:45 p.m. today, road conditions in west central Minnesota range from fair to difficult driving conditions.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, drivers in Swift, Pope and Douglas counties were encountering difficult driving conditions with snow and icy patches. The remainder of the area had fair driving conditions with light snow, wet or icy roadways.
With the first two snow events of the winter season forecast for today and Saturday evening into Sunday, MnDOT is reminding drivers on what safe driving means.
Drivers are asked to check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511; it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
They are also asked to be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
Drivers are asked to stay back at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud. Snowplow operators will pull over when it is safe to do so to allow traffic build-up to pass.
Always stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They may also travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
Please slow down to a safe speed for current conditions, and give yourself plenty of travel time. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
Always buckle up and ensure children are properly secured in the correct child restraint.
Finally, avoid unnecessary travel if road conditions are too poor.
The state’s snowplow operators are trained, experienced and prepared to assist motorists through this weekend’s winter weather in several parts of the state.
“Our crews have the equipment and technology to do an excellent job of clearing Minnesota’s roads,” said MnDOT Acting Commissioner Bernie Arseneau. “We need motorists to do their part to keep the roads safe this winter, by giving our plows room to work.”
Last year in Minnesota, there were 21 crashes involving vehicles that hit snowplows. This is typically caused by inattentive drivers, motorists driving too close to the plow or motorists driving too fast for conditions.
Operators have much to monitor and control, and their ability to see behind them is limited by side mirrors. Their vision can also be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing.
“We all must get back into winter driving mode, which means increasing caution and patience while reducing distractions,” Arseneau urged. “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.”
For additional information, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone or follow #mnstorm on Twitter.