Be prepared for winter driving
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 www.511PA.com PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit to include nonperishable food, water, first aid supplies, a blanket, small shovel and warm clothes.
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