Winter weather is in the forecast this week for northwest region, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 1 is reminding motorists to use caution while driving.
PennDOT District 1, which serves Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties, is prepared for the expected wintry weather, with plow trucks and other equipment ready.
“Last week we had plow trucks on the road as snowfall hit in portions of Erie and Crawford counties,” said Douglas Schofield, PennDOT Assistance District Executive - Maintenance. “The rest of our fleet is ready to go with the necessary equipment and our drivers are prepped on their assigned routes.”
Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply. Crews will be working around the clock, as needed, to keep the roads safe and passable.
Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning. Motorists should leave plenty of space – six car lengths – when following a truck that is plowing or spreading winter materials.
For motorists who are traveling during times of snow or sleet, PennDOT offers this advice:
• Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
• Turn on your headlights.
• Stay in your lane.
• Increase your following distance.
• Stay alert, keep looking as far ahead as possible and be patient.
• Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.
• Use defroster and wipers.
• Keep windows and mirrors free of snow and ice.
• During whiteouts, come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
• Do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could create a chain-reaction collision.
• Do not pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
• Give ample room for plow truck drivers to treat the roadways and never pass between two trucks operating in a plow line.
• Always buckle up and never drink and drive.
While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists can check 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 950 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 website.
PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel, and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.
PennDOT also reminds citizens that downloadable materials, including home and car emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, are available at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 1-888-9-READYPA. Citizens can find information about getting involved in local emergency response efforts and other volunteer opportunities through the Web site or the toll-free line.
For more information on winter driving and PennDOT operations, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.
Subscribe to PennDOT news in Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties at www.penndot.gov/District1.
Follow regional PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PaErie.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Harry, 814-678-5035