Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

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Winter safety

Black ice, an invisible hazard, often forms on overpasses and bridges, where cold air circulates above and below the elevated surface. This hazard can also form when snow melts, or the pavement is heated from auto exhaust emissions and tire heat.

Ice forms on roadways when snow blows onto the surface and sticks. It melts and refreezes, creating icy patches. Rural areas with minimal ground cover to stop the wind often see “blow ice” form on highways.

During or after snowfall, vehicle tires pack down snow on the road. If temperatures are below freezing, the compacted snow refreezes and forms a layer of ice and as more snow falls, the layer of ice thickens. Salt does not work well when temperatures fall below 15 degrees, so MnDOT owns ice breakers that help break up compacted snow.

If it’s snowing: headlights on.

Know before you go. Computer and cell phone show 511mn.org

More salt is not always the cure for slippery roads. 30-15 degrees: Salt works well in warmer winter conditions. 0-15 degrees: Salt takes longer to melt ice and roads refreeze faster as temps drop. 0 and below: Salt becomes much less effective at extremely low temps. Roads may remain slick until temps warm up.

Check 511.mn.org for the latest winter road conditions. Areas with a No Travel Advisory will always be purple.

Never assume a plow can see you. Stay at least 10 car lengths back

A tandem axle snowplow travels 200+ miles per day per shift during a winter event. It costs $262,000, has a lifespan of 14 years and weighs 70,000 pounds

Some snowplow stats: 15 times heavier than the average car; 275 trucks equipped with plow cams; 800 MnDOT snowplows; 1,800 snowplow drivers; and 30,000 lane mile of state highways and interstates

If you are stuck in traffic or drove 20 miles and didn’t see a snowplow, remember snowplows may be just out of site, ahead or behind you

Winter travel information is available at 511mn.org. Normal road conditions are colored green, partially covered are listed in blue, completely covered roads are colored pink and no travel advised roads are colored in purple

Bicycle and pedestrian safety

Give them 3: Bikes are vehicles and can legally use the full travel lane. People driving should give people bicycling at least three feet when passing. It is Minnesota law.

Be predictable:  If you bike, ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal your turns and check behind you as well before making a turn or changing lanes.

Turning?: Always check for people walking and bicycling before making a turn.

Watch for each other: People who bike and people who drive should watch out for each other.

Work zone safety

Pay attention when driving in work zones. A moment can save a life.

Double your distance in work zones. A moment can save a life.

Follow posted speed limit signs in work zones. A moment can save a life.

Work zone safety is everyone's job. A moment can save a life.

Work zone safety is everyone's job. A moment can save a life.

Do the Zipper Merge: Use both lanes until the merge point; resist the urge to merge early; take turns at the merge point