The state of Pennsylvania spends months preparing for winter operations in order to keep the roadways safe for travel. Now, as winter is upon us, PennDOT is asking for your help in keeping other motorists secure this season.
The hefty job or winter roadway maintenance begins months ahead of time. In places like Pennsylvania, planning for road work and stocking supplies begins long before the first snowfall, in the heat of the summer. PennDOT’s road crew has stocked 620,000 tons of salt and 125,000 gallons of brine in preparation for the winter season this year. Along with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), they are ready to keep the roads passable with round-the-clock staff, as well as 2,250 trucks, snowplows, and salt spreaders. They will continue to ship in supplies throughout the winter and deploy nearly 4,500 on-the-road workers.
With an outlook of frigid temperatures and heavy snow in our area during the 2019-2020 winter season, authorities are asking for extra help from residents. “We need your help to keep this season a safe one for everyone,” says PennDOT Secretary, Leslie S. Richards. Here are some fundamental ways that you can do your part.
How Pennsylvania Drivers Can Help Keep the Roads Safe this Winter
Local officials at PennDOT are asking motorists to do their part to prevent roadway hazards and car accidents this season.
Pay Attention to the Forecast and Weather Alerts
The weather can be unpredictable around here, but drivers are asked to check for updates regarding approaching winter storm systems. State officials can’t promise that roadways will be secure as precipitation is falling, so it’s important to stay updated on severe weather watches, advisories, and warnings.
- Winter Storm Watch – indicates the potential of hazardous weather in general. Significant winter weather can include 5 to 7 inches of snow predicted, damaging ice accumulation, or a combination of precipitation and strong winds. The exact location and time for the expected weather event are still undetermined.
- Winter Weather Advisory – is issued when freezing rain, 2 to 4 inches of snow and the potential for significant inconvenience on the roads is forecasted.
- Severe Weather Warning – is issued when significant, hazardous winter weather – freezing temperatures, low wind chill, blizzard activity, winter storms, and ice storms – is imminent.
Stay up to Date on Road Conditions
PennDot has provided some tools to help drivers in Pennsylvania decide when it’s safe to drive and plan their route accordingly in case of inclement weather. The 511 Travel Info on the Go website and mobile app provide accurate information on current road conditions and the real-time position of the snowplows working to clear streets around the state. This information is free and up to date 24 hours a day. Before heading out, you should check the live traffic cameras on the major highways and the traffic conditions map.
Respect Driving Restrictions
State officials in Pennsylvania enforce certain travel restrictions during winter storms in order to prevent dangerous roadway hazards. In fact, last year, highway truck bans and speed limit reductions helped to greatly reduce the number of crashes and injuries on interstates.
Understandably, these restrictions can create delays and frustration for businesses and commercial vehicle drivers. The goal, however, is to make the streets safer for emergency responders, road workers, and others who must travel despite the cold weather. PennDOT officials try to ensure that the limitations are issued only in case of extreme weather conditions and lifted as soon as the roads are clear.
Be Prepared for Winter Driving
“We know that winter weather can hit hard and fast in Pennsylvania,” says Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director, Randy Padfield. “But if we know it’s coming, we can prepare for it, and we all have a role to play in making sure our loved ones are ready for winter driving.”
Preparing your car for winter driving includes checking the fluid levels, replacing worn-out wiper blades, and ensuring that all lights on the vehicle are working properly. Car owners should make sure the tire treads provide adequate grip and switch to snow tires whenever possible. Every driver should have a winter emergency kit on board with first aid supplies, food and water, warm clothing, a mobile phone charger, flares, and a small snow shovel.
Safe driving is impossible without good visibility. Before heading out, it’s important to clear the car completely of snow and ice. Any buildup on the roof, trunk and hood can transfer onto the windshield and cause an accident. Police can ticket drivers who have not properly scraped the windshield or cleared snow off the car.
Use Caution Around Snowplows
Diving on icy roads and snowy conditions is already dangerous, PennDOT warns motorists not to take unnecessary risks by trying to pass snowplows. The spaces on both sides and behind the trucks are called “No Zones.” Give the trucks plenty of space to do their job and get the streets cleared for safer driving. They advise allowing the space of six car lengths when following a truck that is plowing or spraying de-icer chemicals.
Winter drive requires motorists to use extra caution. Whiteout conditions and slippery surfaces can make driving scary and dangerous. Whenever temperatures drop below freezing, wet pavement can quickly form black ice.
When driving in snow or sleet, PennDOT recommends following these safe driving tips:
- Only drive when absolutely necessary.
- Make sure that snow and melting ice won’t inhibit your visibility through windows or mirrors while driving.
- Check that all passengers are wearing their seat belts.
- Reduce your speed.
- Be alert, attentive, and patient while behind the wheel.
- Give other cars extra space and increase your following distance.
- Turn on your headlights even during the day.
- Use extra care when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice forms fast.
- In whiteout conditions, try to get safely off the road, away from oncoming traffic, and come to a complete stop.
- Avoid passing slower vehicles.
- Never drink and drive.
Join Pennsylvania’s Plow Force
The state of Pennsylvania needs more equipment operators to keep up with road maintenance activities for the winter season. Candidates with commercial driver’s license, or who have experience as truck drivers, mechanics, welders and dispatchers, are encouraged to check local job postings.
Get more great seasonal advice here: 8 Ways to Protect Car Paint During the Winter.
Badell’s Wishes You Safe Winter Driving
Badell’s Collision cares about the safety of our clients and community members. Please contact our local, family-run auto repair shops in Aston and Malvern to request information. For a quick quote, use our easy online estimate form.