Question: Can a person get a ticket for driving too slow?

Answer: Yes they can. Minnesota State Statute says that no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law or except when the vehicle is temporarily unable to maintain a greater speed due to a combination of the weight of the vehicle and the grade of the highway.

Freeways in Minnesota have an actual posted minimum speed limit. A driver must use due care in operating a vehicle, so there are times when traveling under that limit would be legal and encouraged because of weather conditions (snow, ice, fog, etc.) and actual or potential hazards on the highway.

Remember the “Slow Poke Law” that says when practicable, drivers need to move out of the left lane in order to allow vehicles to pass. So make it a habit to stay in the right lane when you have two lanes in the same direction.

Question: Can you give some advice on driving in fog?

Answer: Driving when the weather limits your visibility can be a challenge for all of us on the road. You can reduce your chances of being involved in a crash by following a few safety tips.

Minnesota law says that every vehicle on a roadway shall display lighted headlamps, lighted tail lamps, and illuminating devices from sunset to sunrise. The law also applies when it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing and at any time when visibility is impaired by weather or insufficient light, at a distance of 500 feet ahead.

Basic automatic headlights work through sensors which detect how much light is outside. These sensors are located on the dash of the vehicle. The headlights turn on when the sensors detect a certain level of darkness or the level of ambient light.

The problem is there are limitations to automatic headlights. Sometimes they do not turn on during heavy rain, snow or fog, as the light sensor still detects some light.

I see many drivers that fail to physically turn on their headlights, which will also activate the rear taillights and marker lights. Drivers might assume the sensors will activate all of the vehicle’s lights in reduced visibilities, but that is not always the case.

We also recommend what’s called the three-second-plus following distance rule. Watch the vehicle in front of you.  When that vehicle gets past an object such as a sign, pole, bridge, etc., then count off three seconds.  You should not arrive at that spot sooner than your count to three.  If you do, then you are following too close!  Also, you must add one second for every hazard that exists.  Hazards include but are not limited to heavy traffic, rain, snow, fog, driving into the sun, etc.  In some cases you might have to allow six, seven seconds (or even more) to be safe because of existing hazards.

If you eliminate all distractions while driving, you might be able to see a hazardous situation in time to avoid it or reduce the severity of a crash.

We recommend when driving in dense fog, heavy rain or snow is to drive in the right lane of a two-lane roadway going in the same direction. In the event that a vehicle is traveling the wrong way, chances are that they will be in your left lane as they approach and pass by you.

Question: I hear you mention TZD and how law enforcement works with them. Can you explain what TZD is?

Answer: TZD is an initiative and stands for Toward Zero Deaths. Minnesota’s TZD program was launched in 2003 by the Minnesota Departments of Public Safety, Transportation, and Health in hopes of reducing traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads.

The name speaks for itself, even one traffic-related death on our roads is unacceptable. The idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 and since then has evolved to several state DOTs, including Minnesota, that have identified zero deaths as a core objective in their plans.

Minnesota’s TZD program is considered a national model. Leadership has presented in numerous states looking to add similar programs.

The TZD leadership team looks at areas for improvement from crash data and of uses education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services (the “Four Es”). A combination of strategies from different focus areas is often most effective in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes and save lives.

The Minnesota State Patrol and the other Minnesota law enforcement agencies work with nine TZD regional coordinators across the state to provide education and community outreach.  

Promoting safe driving behavior such as buckling up, driving at safe speeds, paying attention, and never driving impaired is key to reducing traffic fatalities.

Since TZD began in 2003:

The number of motor vehicle occupants killed who were unbelted decreased by 63%.

The number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes decreased by 52% ... The number of people killed in speed-related crashes decreased by 42% ... The number of drivers under the age of 21 killed in speed-related crashes decreased by 63% ...The number of drivers killed in distracted-driving-related crashes decreased by 74%.

TZD regional coordinators also work very closely with the roadway engineers from MNDOT, county and city officials in an effort to improve our roadways and with the emergency medical and trauma organizations to help reduce life altering injuries and deaths.

Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.

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