Winter safety driving tips if your car winds up in ditch

With our strong winter storm in its second day, MnDOT traffic cameras captured plenty of cars slipping and sliding all over the highways.

But if you do have to leave your home and hit the road, what are you supposed to do to stay safe?

"It's dangerous. When you add in the combo of all the ice and snow on the roads, it becomes a challenge for drivers," said Lt Gordon Shank with the Minnesota State Patrol. 

The State Patrol says if your car does end up in a ditch, stay in your vehicle, buckle up and put your hazard lights on so other motorists can see you and know you are in trouble.

"One, it's safer in your vehicle. If there's a car sliding in the ditch, imagine there's another one coming soon after that has a chance of doing the same thing. If you are out, there is a significant chance of you having an injury by getting hit by another sliding vehicle," said Lt Shank.


The State Patrol says you can call your own roadside assistance program as long as you understand there may be a delay if there are lots of other crashes.

But a call to 911 will get a trooper to you with flashing lights, especially if you are in a precarious position.

"You can always call 911. We are always there to help. You could be in a bad location, in a curve, concerned 'I don't know if other drivers can see me' so it's always ok to call 911," said Lt Shank.

Public safety officials say with temperatures this cold, it's also essential to pack a winter emergency survival kit, with basics like a coat, hat and gloves, water and snacks, and a phone charger.
Another tip, fill up your tank before you leave, so your car can keep you warm if you do end up in a ditch.

"You might think 'Oh this will never happen to me. This will never happen to my kids. This will never happen to my spouse' until it does. What you don't want to be is one of the people who thinks ‘Oh, I wish I would have.’" said Minnesota Department of Public Safety Director of Communications Howie Padilla.