HARRISBURG – Motorists are cautioned to avoid unnecessary travel and equip their vehicles with emergency kits due to ice, sleet and snow forecast for the next few days, said acting PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E.
“Extremely dangerous weather is expected over the next few days, and although we will have crews treating roads around the clock, motorists should remain prepared for exceptionally icy conditions,” Schoch said. “All it takes is one stuck vehicle or crash to halt traffic and create lengthy delays.
“If you must travel, vehicle emergency kits are essential and motorists should ensure that their vehicle’s gas tank is as full as possible,” he added.
According to Schoch, PennDOT has a specific strategy for coping with ice storms:
Interstates and Expressways: On major roadways where salt residue no longer remains, PennDOT will pre-treat with salt brine (anti-ice) before the storm. Once the storm begins, salt will be spread over the entire length of the road until all lanes are free of snow and ice. The department will also plow excess amounts of snow and ice as they accumulate. An average cycle for a PennDOT truck on these routes is about one hour – which means that depending on traffic and the storm’s intensity, a PennDOT truck should be crossing approximately the same spot every hour.
Other Major Routes: Some roadways will be anti-iced before the storm and then PennDOT will spread winter materials, either salt or a combination of salt and anti-skid, with primary emphasis given to bridges, hills, curves and intersections, especially during the morning and evening rush hours. Finally, the department will plow to remove snow or slush. An average cycle for a PennDOT truck on these routes is about 90 minutes.
Secondary State Roads: Since salt requires higher traffic volumes to work effectively, PennDOT reduces the amount of salt and increases the amount of anti-skid to help vehicles maintain traction. These roads are also plowed to remove accumulations of slush and ice. An average cycle for a PennDOT truck on these routes is about two hours.
Speed Reduction/Interstate Road Closures: During severe weather, PennDOT may reduce speed limits on major roads in the interest of public safety. During major winter storms, some or all interstates may be closed for the motorists’ safety and to assist in snow removal. Interstates may be closed prior to or during winter events due to potential or current severe winter weather, or vehicle accidents that render the roadway impassable.
PennDOT urges commercial drivers pulling either lightly-loaded trucks or twin-trailers to avoid traveling during the upcoming storm and to use tire chains, especially in hilly locations.
PennDOT urges motorists to pack a winter emergency kit for each vehicle that they own. The emergency kit should contain at a minimum:
- Flashlight and batteries;
- Battery-operated radio;
- Jumper cables;
- Extra cell phone batteries and charger;
- Snow shovel;
- Matches and candles;
- First-aid supplies;
- Blanket, extra-warm clothing, gloves and boots;
- Ice scraper;
- Bottled water and non-perishable food; and
- Anything else you may need to accommodate passengers (special medication, baby supplies, pet food, etc.).
Motorists can create their own personalized checklists with the template provided online. More winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms are also available on this website.
The department also asks motorists to allow extra space when driving near plow trucks. So far this winter, 28 PennDOT plow trucks have been struck by motorists. For their own safety and the safety of plow operators, motorists should never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading winter materials.
When preparing for winter travel, motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. The 511 site also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA website.
Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews.