Be pre­pared for win­ter driv­ing

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - OPINION -

The Dec. 29 snowfall that blan­keted the re­gion with a few inches of the white stuff serves as a re­minder for mo­torists to be pre­pared for win­ter driv­ing and ex­er­cise cau­tion around snow re­moval ve­hi­cles.

Ac­cord­ing to Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Barry J. Schoch, the de­part­ment has 5,400 op­er­a­tors and more than 2,250 trucks ready for win­ter weather.

“Pen­nDOT’s pri­mary goal dur­ing win­ter weather is keep­ing our nearly 40,000 miles of road­way pass­able, which means they won’t nec­es­sar­ily be free of ice and snow dur­ing storms,” Schoch said. “Get­ting through win­ter safely is a shared re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tween us and our cus­tomers, so I en­cour­age mo­torists to be sure they’re ready for what­ever con­di­tions we’ll face this win­ter.”

In­ter­states and ex­press­ways are the pri­mary fo­cus dur­ing storms, mean­ing equip­ment may be redi­rected to those routes dur­ing sig­nif­i­cant win­ter events. As a re­sult, mo­torists may find deeper ac­cu­mu­la­tions on less-trav­eled routes and should ad­just their driv­ing ac­cord­ingly.

Pen­nDOT has ap­prox­i­mately 777,000 tons of salt stock­piled and will con­tinue to take salt de­liv­er­ies through­out the win­ter. It has agree­ments with more than 680 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to clear state roads within their ju­ris­dic­tions and rents about 270 trucks and op­er­a­tors to as­sist with snow re­moval.

Mo­torists en­coun­ter­ing snow or ice-cov­ered road­ways should slow down, in­crease fol­low­ing dis­tance and avoid dis­trac­tions. Last win­ter, there were 176 crashes re­sult­ing in five fa­tal­i­ties and 113 in­juries on snowy, slushy or ice­cov­ered road­ways where ag­gres­sive-driv­ing such as speed­ing or mak­ing care­less lane changes were fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to Pen­nDOT.

Drivers also should take ex­tra pre­cau­tions when driv­ing near op­er­at­ing snow­plows, and fol­low th­ese tips:

Stay back: Stay at least six car-lengths be­hind an op­er­at­ing plow and re­mem­ber the main plow is wider than the truck — usu­ally 11- to 14-feet de­pend­ing on the model. Wing plows, on one or both sides of the truck, are gen­er­ally 10 feet wide.

Re­main alert: Snow­plows usu­ally travel much more slowly than other traf­fic and may be com­pletely ob­scured due to blow­ing snow or heavy snowfall, es­pe­cially in open ar­eas where high winds can cre­ate zero vis­i­bil­ity.

Move over: Move as far away from the cen­ter­line of road as safely as pos­si­ble when ap­proach­ing a snow­plow headon — snow spray can ob­scure the ac­tual snow­plow width.

Never pass: Never try to pass or get be­tween sev­eral trucks plow­ing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller ve­hi­cles to lose con­trol, cre­at­ing a haz­ard for the ve­hi­cle’s op­er­a­tor, the snow­plow driver and other ve­hi­cles.

Don’t drive be­side: Never travel next to a snow­plow since plows can quickly move side­ways when hit­ting drifts or cut­ting through heavy snow­pack.

Head­lights on: Keep lights on when driv­ing near snow­plows to help the op­er­a­tor bet­ter see the ve­hi­cle. rn­der state law, head­lights must be turned on ev­ery time a ve­hi­cle’s wipers are on due to in­clement weather.

Mo­torists can check road con­di­tions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by vis­it­ing Pen­nDOT re­minds mo­torists to pack an emer­gency kit to in­clude non­per­ish­able food, water, first aid sup­plies, a blan­ket, small shovel and warm clothes.

Submitted photo

MU­SEUM VISIT ... Em­ploy­ees and vol­un­teers from the James A. Mich­ener Mu­seum of Art en­joy a com­pli­men­tary tour of the Pearl S. Buck House Dec. 14, 2012. They were joined by em­ploy­ees and vol­un­teers from An­dalu­sia Es­tate and Graeme Park. Pearl S. Buck...

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