PennDOT Urges Drivers to Avoid Unnecessary Travel in Erie Region, Use Caution During Winter Storm

NORTHWESTERN PA – Winter weather with heavy snow squalls and gusty winds continue to impact areas of the Erie Region in northwestern Pennsylvania.

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.

There is no snow activity expected for the Jefferson County area on Monday, with wind chill values as low as -1.

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.

Meanwhile, PennDOT is prepared for the expected storm, with plow trucks and other equipment ready. Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply. Crews will be working around the clock if necessary 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.

While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway 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 825 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 atwww.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.

Follow regional PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PaErie.
 

PennDOT Announces Commercial Vehicle Restrictions on Interstates in Erie County

ERIE CO., Pa. – Due to the severity of the winter storm, PennDOT is restricting commercial vehicle travel on Interstate 86 and a portion of Interstate 90 in Erie County.

The restriction is in place for Interstate 86 and Interstate 90 from the New York state line to the Interstate 79 interchange. Included in the restriction are lightly-loaded or empty semi-trucks, double trailers, recreational vehicles, non-commercial vehicles towing trailers, and motorcycles.

PennDOT is urging motorists to avoid unnecessary travel but those who must head out will see speeds reduced to 45 mph on Interstate 90, Interstate 86, and Interstate 79. Speed reductions in Crawford and Mercer counties have been lifted.

Additional PennDOT resources from throughout the region have been temporarily reassigned to Erie County to assist with snow removal for the duration of the winter weather storm.

Although PennDOT crews have been treating roadways, the department’s primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear.

Motorists are reminded to use extra caution 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.

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 850 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.

 
The department also asks motorists to allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks. Also, for their own safety and the safety of plow operators, motorists should never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading winter materials.

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 downloading the free ReadyPA app for Apple or Android devices.

Citizens can also find information about getting involved in local emergency response efforts and other volunteer opportunities through the ReadyPA website.


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