The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recommends motorists avoid traveling during winter storms if possible, but motorists who must be on the road are urged to use caution while driving.
Sudden and heavy snow squalls are one of the biggest challenges that motorists, including PennDOT plow truck drivers, face during the winter; and motorists need to be alert for sudden squalls that can quickly cause roads to become snow covered.
Heavy squalls can also cause whiteout conditions that can greatly restrict or virtually eliminate a driver’s visibility.
If motorists do encounter snow squalls while traveling, 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.
Always buckle up and never drink and drive.
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.
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.
For more information on winter driving and PennDOT operations, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.
Follow regional PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PaNortheast