Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 1 is urging motorists to use caution while driving and avoid traveling during severe weather conditions.
Wintry weather and periods of heavy rain are in the forecast for the coming days for portions of the northwest region. PennDOT maintenance crews in Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties are prepared for any inclement weather that might occur.
“PennDOT started the process of preparing equipment for winter earlier this month,” said Douglas Schofield, PennDOT Assistance District Executive - Maintenance. “Should the weather require, our crews are ready to maintain the roadways as needed during the forecasted changing weather conditions.”
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.
In cases of heavy rain fall, PennDOT urges motorists to be alert for water on roadways, obey warning signs and traffic control devices, and never drive through flooding or standing water on roads. Shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water.
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 1,000 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 local PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PAErie or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/northwestregionpenndot.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Harry, 814-678-5035