As the winter and holiday travel seasons approach, PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch announced on Monday that the department has 5,400 operators and more than 2,250 trucks ready for winter weather, and encouraged motorists to join in preparations for the season.
"PennDOT’s primary goal during winter weather is keeping our nearly 40,000 miles of roadway passable, which means they won’t necessarily be free of ice and snow during storms," Schoch said. "Getting through winter safely is a shared responsibility between us and our customers, so I encourage motorists to be sure they’re ready for whatever conditions we’ll face this winter."
During storms, interstates and expressways are PennDOT’s primary focus and equipment may be redirected to these routes during significant winter events. During heavier storms, motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions.
If drivers encounter snow or ice-covered roadways, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter, there were 176 crashes resulting in five fatalities and 113 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.
Motorists should carry an emergency kit including items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket and small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific need they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, or even children’s games.
Last winter, PennDOT used more than 450,000 tons of salt on state roads. Currently, PennDOT has approximately 777,000 tons of salt stockpiled and will continue to take salt deliveries throughout the winter.
PennDOT has agreements with more than 680 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their jurisdictions. The department also rents approximately 270 trucks and operators to assist with snow removal, as needed.
Motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 670 traffic cameras. 511PA also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network. Access to 511PA is also available by calling 511.
For more information on PennDOT’s winter preparations and additional winter-driving resources for motorists, visit the department’s "Ready for Winter" website at www.dot.state.pa.us/winter.