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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Ahead of a weekend of inclement weather in Minnesota, traffic safety experts urge prepping your car for wintery conditions and driving at slower speeds.

Lisa Kons, manager of the traffic safety program at the Minnesota Safety Council said the number one safety hazard during snow, sleet or rain is speed.

“We need to drive for conditions so now that speed limit is a suggestion. You need to drive for what you’re comfortable with,” she said, suggesting driving 15 to 20 miles slower than the speed limit if necessary.

Winter looms as traffic fatalities in Minnesota near record levels. Minnesota has seen 440 deaths this year, according to preliminary data released by the Office of Traffic Safety—speeding accounted for at least 132 of those crashes.

Make sure you “winterize” your vehicle to avoid breaking down. Check for the following, and consider getting snow tires.

  • Battery
  • Wipers and washer fluid
  • Antifreeze
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level
  • Tires and air pressure.

The Minnesota Department of Safety also suggests having an emergency kit that includes, jumper cables, snow shovels and scrapers, paper maps, flash lights and extra layers for protection from the cold.

If you find yourself in an emergency, don’t leave your car to call 911.

You can check current road conditions here.

Caroline Cummings