With the colder weather on the way, PennDOT’s final winter preparations are being made, and more than 2,200 trucks and 5,400 operators will be ready to tackle winter’s worst.
“Overall, PennDOT plows nearly 40,000 miles of roadways, about the same number of miles maintained by New York, New Jersey and all the New England states combined, making ours the largest system in a major snow-belt,” State Transportation Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “With this huge number of miles, our primary goal must be to keep roads passable, not necessarily completely free of ice and snow.”
Interstates and expressways are PennDOT’s primary focus during storms, and equipment may be redirected to these routes during significant winter events. During heavier storms, motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions.
“We will strive to keep motorists moving this winter, but in spite of our best efforts, Mother Nature can throw an occasional curveball,” Schoch said. “That’s why it’s critical for drivers to prepare their vehicles for winter and make smart decisions about travel whenever storms are approaching.”
When driving on snow- or ice-covered roads, motorists should slow down, increase their following distance and never text while driving. Last winter, there were 393 crashes resulting in three fatalities and 214 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.
To prepare vehicles for winter, drivers should have a mechanic inspect their vehicle’s belts, hoses, battery and brakes. Also, be sure to check that the heater and defroster are working properly and that the wipers do not streak.
Motorists should also check their tires for proper inflation and sufficient tread depth. A quick way to check tread depth is to insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the entire head, the tires are worn and traction will suffer. If you live in an area prone to heavy snow, drivers may want to consider using dedicated snow tires or carrying a set of tire chains. At a minimum, all-season tires should be rated for use in mud and snow.
Motorists should carry an emergency kit that includes items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket and small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific need they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, a spare cell phone or even children’s games.
Last winter, PennDOT used about 1 million tons of salt on state roads. Currently, PennDOT has approximately 642,000 tons of salt stockpiled and will continue to take salt deliveries throughout the winter.
PennDOT has agreements with more than 700 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their jurisdictions. The department also rents approximately 400 trucks and operators to assist with snow removal, as needed.
Motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by 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.
511PA also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Access to 511PA is also available by calling 511.