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Office of Traffic Safety

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Winter Driving

Putting the Brrrrrakes on Winter Driving Crashes


While summer months are the deadliest on Minnesota roads, wintertime leads to the most crashes and poses safety risks and hazards.  
  • In the past five years, officers reported snowy or icy road conditions in more than 79,165 crashes (2016-2020).
  • These crashes resulted in 181 traffic deaths and 19,218 injuries.​

Stay safe while on the road in the winter:

  • 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