Winter Operations & Safety
Get Ready for Winter
Regardless of whether there’s snow on the ground, you can take steps to prepare yourself for winter and all that it brings. Feel free to use the information below as you prepare yourself for winter travel.
Preparation is key to successfully navigating winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that your vehicle is ready for ice and snow.
For the majority of Pennsylvania, all-season radial tires that are mud and snow rated are appropriate for winter driving. In areas of the state that experience more snow, motorists may choose to install dedicated winter tires or carry a set of tire chains or cables.
In addition to preparing your vehicle, carrying an emergency kit in your car is an easy but important way to make sure you’re ready for the season.
Aside from travel preparations, there are ways that you can ensure that your mailbox is ready for winter.
Is Your Mailbox Ready for Winter?
PennDOT allows property owners to place mailboxes within the limits of the legal right-of-way, out of respect for the U.S. Postal Service’s need to deliver, and mail customers' convenience of delivery. But because those boxes are within the right-of-way, damages are the responsibility of the property owner.
Be sure your mailbox has a strong support. You may also wish to use reflective tape or other material to make it easier to see during storms or during dark hours.
Check your box and support often, clearing snow from it and depositing the snow properly and in a manner to allow you and motorists proper sight distances (and never on the roadway).
Homeowners who have followed these tips in the past and have still experienced damaged mailboxes may wish to consider installing a cantilevered mailbox support that will swing a mailbox out of harm’s way.
Winter Driveway Tips
To help keep your driveway from being "plowed in," PennDOT offers these tips.
When Winter Weather Hits
PennDOT’s Winter Driving Guide (also available in black and white) is another resource you can use to get ready for winter driving.
Remember, if winter weather is forecasted, eliminate all unnecessary travel. This will keep you and your family safe and allow PennDOT to more easily perform our winter duties.
Our Winter Storm Tactics Fact Sheet explains how we prepare for storms as well
as how we handle different storms on different roadway types.
PennDOT's Job and How We Do It
PennDOT maintains nearly 40,000 miles of roads and 25,000 bridges statewide, which translates into nearly 96,000 snow-lane miles — enough to circle the globe nearly four times! To tackle this task, PennDOT uses 2,200 trucks, plows and salt spreaders, operated by 4,800 licensed department operators. The department also rents about 270 trucks and their operators to assist with snow removal operations. During last year's winter, PennDOT used 858,000 tons of anti-skid and 1.1 million tons of salt to keep Pennsylvania drivers moving.
If winter does strike, PennDOT will have crews treating roadways around the clock, but the department's aim is to keep roads passible, not completely free of ice and snow. However, PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear.
Feel free to check out our Winter Maintenance Card to learn about our winter resources and to see how we tackle winter storms. You can also see why, when and where we use salt, anti-skid and other road treatments with our Science of Winter Road Treatments infographic (PDF version).