SSI header print
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

February law of the month

SSI - Navigation

Driving too fast for conditions causes many wintertime crashes

Vehicles in a ditch along a highway or stuck in a snow bank on the side of a street are a familiar part of Wisconsin’s winter landscape. Although drivers try to blame slippery roads for losing control of their vehicles, frequently the truth is they were driving too fast for conditions.

“Driving at the posted speed limit often will be too fast for conditions when there’s ice, snow and slick spots on roadways or when visibility is reduced by snow, sleet and fog,“ says Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald. “The speed limit is set for safe driving on dry pavement with good visibility. You might not be able to stop or control your vehicle at the posted speed limit on a slippery road or during hazardous weather.”

Slowing down when driving conditions are treacherous is not just common sense—it’s the law. It is illegal to drive at speeds that exceed what is reasonable and prudent under existing road conditions. Drivers are required to adjust their speeds to take into account both the actual and potential hazards due to weather, highway conditions or other traffic.

A violation of this state law costs $213.10 with four demerit points added to the driver’s record. A second offense within a 12-month period costs $263.50 with four additional points.

“The slogan ‘Snow Means Slow’ also applies to four-wheel drive and other heavy-duty vehicles, which can still slide, skid and fish tail while trying to slow down or stop on slippery roads,” says Superintendent Fitzgerald. “If you drive too fast for conditions and slide off the road or crash, you likely will have to pay for an expensive traffic ticket plus towing and vehicle repair bills. It’s much cheaper, safer and certainly less frightening to maintain control of your vehicle by slowing down.”

Other laws of the month:


Related information:

SSI - Contacts Questions about the content of this page:
Steve L. Olson, steven.olson@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: February 2, 2015

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not testify to, sponsor or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages. Some pages contain links to other documents and media types (PDF, Word, Flash, Video, etc.) and require free plugins to work. Visit our software information page for assistance.