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Ask a Trooper: Was citation necessary if road was slippery?

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: My friend went in the ditch last weekend and was given a citation for failure to drive with due care. It seems to me that is wasn't his fault because the wind was blowing snow across the road and making the roads slippery. Why was he issued a citation?

Answer: Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions is one of the top contributing factors in fatal and serious injury crashes our roadways. In most cases, these tragic crashes are preventable if drivers would just slow down.

Losing control of a vehicle is evidence that the driver committed a violation of a traffic or equipment law. When a vehicle loses control and leaves the roadway, a failure to drive with due care is the most common violation cited.

Many of the fatal and serious injury crashes that I have investigated are one-vehicle rollovers, or a two-vehicle crash where one of the vehicles was traveling too fast for conditions, lost control and struck another vehicle.

We all have an obligation to drive with due care and adjust our driving skills to the weather, road and traffic conditions. This is especially true in the winter when weather and road conditions can frequently change.

Other excuses for a vehicle losing control on slippery road surfaces are typically:

• Using cruise control on poor road conditions.

• Following too close.

• Distracted or fatigued driving.

• Unsafe tires.

• Driving while impaired.

You can avoid a citation — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to or Sgt. Neil Dickenson — Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.