As cooler air and the potential for winter weather settle into Pennsylvania, the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) urged motorists to join the department’s 4,800 operators and roughly 2,200 trucks in preparing for the season.
“PennDOT’s staff and equipment are working hard to be ready for winter’s arrival, and drivers are a huge part of our mission to keep roads as safe as possible this winter,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Motorists should prepare themselves and their vehicles now, before winter weather hits.”
PennDOT is responsible for more than 40,000 miles of state-maintained roadway or 96,000 snowlane miles --enough miles to circle the globe nearly four times. A snowlane 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.
The department maintains roughly the same number of miles maintained by the state in New York, New Jersey and all of the New England states combined.
“With this number of road miles,
we have to prioritize our services,” Richards said. “By preparing for winter weather now and making smart decisions about travel when storms are approaching, the public can help make this winter a safe one.”
To prepare for winter driving, especially if long-distance travel is planned, motorists should carry an emergency kit including items such as non-perishable food, water, firstaid 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 552 crashes resulting in four fatalities and 279 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.
PennDOT last winter used nearly 1.2 million tons of salt on state-owned roads. Currently, PennDOT has more than 667,000 tons of salt stockpiled and will continue to take salt deliveries throughout the winter.
PennDOT has agreements with 659 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their borders. The department also rents approximately 270 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 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 770 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.
For more information on PennDOT’s winter preparations and additional winter-driving resources for motorists, visit the department’s winter Web page, www.PennDOT.gov/winter.
Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/penndotnewsor “like” the department on Facebook.