National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Automotive Safety

Minnesota Road Conditions are available by dialing 511, or at:

Wisconsin Road Conditions are available by dialing 511 or (866) 511-9472, or at:


  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for the season. Throughout the winter, keep your gas tank at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze
  • Carry a winter storm survival kit. The typical kit should include a large coffee can with plastic lid. Inside the can, pack high energy foods, spare batteries for a flashlight, a red bandana or cloth to tie on the antenna, and candles/matches/metal cup to melt snow for drinking water.
  • Other bulky or heavy items which should be in the vehicle include a shovel, jumper cables, a bag of sand or salt for traction, basic tools, blankets or sleeping bags, a tow cable or chain, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and extra clothing
  • Consider keeping a cell phone. If you dial 911 from a cell phone, remember that the dispatcher may not know your location, so you must provide it to them. However, most new cell phones do have GPS capability

Out on the Road

  • Before increasing your speed, get a feel for the traction. Remember that bridges and overpasses can be more slippery than other parts of the road. Do not brake suddenly. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady and firm pressure to the pedal. Do not pump anti-lock brakes
  • If you begin to skid, remain calm. Ease your foot off of the gas and turn the wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go
  • When driving near snowplows, remember: Stay Back, Stay Alive. Reduce your speed. Never drive into a snow cloud. An average snowplow weighs 17 times more than an average car. If you are in a collision with a snowplow, you will lose. Be patient; follow eight seconds behind snowplows

During a Winter Storm

  • If severe winter weather is expected, consider postponing travel
  • Avoid traveling alone during a winter storm
  • Always fill the gas tank before entering open country, even for a short distance
  • Stock your vehicle with a winter storm safety kit
  • If the storm begins to be too much for you to handle, seek refuge

If a Winter Storm Traps You

  • Stay in your vehicle. Do not attempt to walk in a winter storm. You can easily become lost and disoriented in blowing and drifting snow. Staying in your car decreases your risk of frostbite and increases the chance of being rescued. make your vehicle visible to rescuers
  • Beware of carbon monoxide. Run the engine a few minutes every hour, or every half hour in extreme cold. Keep one window slightly open. Make sure that snow does not block the exhaust pipe