Harrisburg – With Pennsylvania experiencing winter weather and freezing temperatures, PennDOT is marking the state’s Winter Driving Awareness Week by encouraging drivers to be sure they’re ready this season. Winter Driving Awareness Week, Jan. 11-17, highlights the need for motorists to keep safety in mind throughout the winter season.
“Winter Driving Awareness Week calls our attention to the need for increased preparation and caution during the season,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “We all have the responsibility to be sure our vehicles are ready to deal with winter driving before we leave home.” “If they haven’t already done so, drivers should get their vehicles serviced by a mechanic they trust,” Schoch added. “A properly trained mechanic can check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly.” Schoch added that motorists should frequently check all fluid levels, lights and wiper blades. Tires should also be checked often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire-tread depth to perform on ice and snow.
Now is also a good time for motorists to prepare or restock their vehicle emergency kit. The kit should contain items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Additionally, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.
When winter weather is occurring, PennDOT asks drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:
- Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
- Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
- When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
- Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
- Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
- Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
To help make decisions as to whether to travel during winter weather, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking 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 700 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 safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video released this winter, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at www.JustDrivePA.com.
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