STATE COLLEGE – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today stressed the importance of preparing vehicles for winter and exercising caution in winter conditions as part of Winter Driving Awareness Week, which runs through Jan. 12.
“The safest choice during a winter weather event is to postpone any unnecessary travel and stay off the roads,” said Dave Matheson, assistant district executive for maintenance.
“If you must travel, please slow down and be sure your vehicle is ready to perform in winter conditions.”
As part of the event, PennDOT officials warned of potential winter conditions for the upcoming weekend, and reminded all motorists to ensure their vehicle’s brakes, battery, hoses, belts, heater and defroster are checked by a trusted mechanic.
Regular checks of fluid levels, windshield wipers, headlights and taillights, tire inflation and tread depth were also recommended.
Drivers were advised to refill or pack an emergency travel kit in the event they become stranded. Suggested contents include: a flashlight/batteries, jumper cables, first aid supplies, bottled water and non-perishable food items.
- Remain at least six car lengths behind an operating plow and be aware the plow is wider than the truck.
- Stay alert since plow trucks typically travel slower than regular traffic.
- Move as far away from the centerline as safely possible when a plow truck is traveling toward you. Remember that snow can obscure the width of the plow.
- Never attempt to pass or get between 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 you, the equipment operators and nearby vehicles.
- Never travel next to a plow truck because there are blind spots where the operator can’t see. Plow trucks can also occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or packed snow.
- Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Under Pennsylvania law, vehicle lights must be on when a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
Motorists are encouraged to “Know Before They Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.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 860 traffic cameras.
Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.
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 regional traffic updates, follow www.twitter.com/511PAStateCOLL.