HARRISBURG – As PennDOT shifts its operations from construction to winter maintenance, the department has urged motorists to join in preparing for the season and announced a new video to educate the public on PennDOT operations and safe winter driving.
The “Winter Operations” video is available here and highlights the department’s 5,400 operators and 2,250 trucks prepared to maintain more than 40,000 miles of state-maintained roadway or 96,000 snow-lane miles, enough miles to circle the globe nearly four times. A snow-lane is calculated as the miles of road multiplied by the number of lanes, which means a one-mile section of four-lane roadway would equal four snow-lane miles.
“PennDOT has an enormous responsibility to keep travel as safe as possible through the winter,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “We started preparing for this winter as soon as the last one ended, and the public should be preparing themselves and their vehicles for whatever winter will throw our way.”
To prepare for winter driving, motorists should carry an emergency kit, including items of non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies or even children’s games.
When winter weather hits, PennDOT’s primary focus is on interstates and expressways, and equipment may be redirected to these routes during significant winter events. The more traffic a roadway has, the more attention it will receive from plows, so motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions.
If motorists encounter snow- or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter, there were 427 crashes resulting in two fatalities and 130 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors, such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors in the crash.
During last winter, PennDOT used more than 1.2 million tons of salt on state-owned roads. Currently, PennDOT has approximately 639,000 tons of salt stockpiled and will continue to take salt deliveries throughout the winter.
PennDOT has agreements with more than 680 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their borders. The department also rents approximately 271 trucks and operators to assist with snow removal.
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visitingwww.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24-hours-a-day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 700 traffic cameras.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA Web site.
For more information on PennDOT’s winter preparations and additional winter-driving resources for motorists, visit the department’s “Ready for Winter” Web site.