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How to Use Travel Information Maps Properly - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

How to Use Travel Information Maps Properly

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When the weather gets rough, like it did in some parts of the valley this weekend, where do you turn to get accurate information on road conditions?

And if you do look for it, are you able to figure out what it's telling you?

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman has what you need to know when reading Minnesota's 511 website.

"This weekend in particular was a very busy weekend, not necessarily what we call a winter storm, but what we refer to as 'blow ice,'" Sergeant Jesse Grabow, with the Minnesota State Patrol, said.

Patrollers say this weekend was one of the most serious they've dealt with this year, responding to about 60 crashes in West Central Minnesota, forty of those were rollovers.

"When two-thirds of your crashes were rollovers that just sends the message people are not getting the message," Grabow said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is working to clear up that message of caution.

"Even if the roads aren't closed or not evaluated as hazardous, it doesn't mean that it's completely safe to be out on the roads," TJ Melcher, Public Affairs Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said.

Melcher says the 511 road maps break down driving conditions into categories: good, fair, difficult and hazardous.

"Good is just regular pavement and no safety hazard," Melcher said. "When it drops down to fair it's the basic result of any winter weather conditions- that can be rain, sleet, snow."

He says it's important to remember, even a ranking of "good" or "fair" can be dangerous when driving too fast- which was the case this weekend.

"I think MinnDot's 511 website is a good resource, but it's not something- or any technology for that matter- you should rely on," Grabow said.

So, the best technology to assess road conditions is often sitting on your shoulders.

"It doesn't matter how much technology we have," he said. "Drivers need to take the good common sense approach."

More information on road conditions can be found by following the Department of Transportation's twitter accounts or the hashtag: #MNstorm.

North Dakota also has 511 maps to display road conditions.

But, North Dakota's map points out specific conditions, such as where roads are icy or winds are high. That's why it's often considered more user-friendly.

We have links to both travel information maps under the Weather button.

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