SPRINGFIELD - Illinois transportation and law enforcement officials today stressed safety by urging motorists to prepare for unfavorable winter driving conditions. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Tollway crews and Illinois State Police (ISP) have partnered to implement the state’s frontline winter crews and to ensure emergency equipment is ready for the upcoming snow and ice season.
“IDOT has continuously and effectively implemented a proactive approach to safely remove ice and snow during winter months,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “Motorists should plan ahead and provide sufficient time to reach their destination, slow down, buckle-up and eliminate all potential distractions in their vehicle before driving. Safety is the number one priority at IDOT and it is never compromised.”
During the 2010-2011 winter season, more than 3,900 employees and 1,900 pieces of equipment will be available for deployment as needed by IDOT to keep state routes clear and passable. Last year, the agency spent $79.6 million on snow removal, spreading 536,600 tons of salt and logging 811,000 labor hours.
For years, ISP, Tollway and IDOT have worked together to urge motorists to drive defensively in winter weather.
"During the winter months, motorists can help protect those who work to keep our roads safe, by yielding to emergency vehicles. The Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes, or reduce speed and proceed with caution when approaching stationary emergency vehicles displaying flashing warning lights," said Illinois State Police Acting Director Jonathon Monken. "Reducing speed, avoiding distractions, and practicing safe driving habits are crucial in the winter months. There is simply less room for error during inclement weather."
On the Illinois Tollway, more than 400 employees are ready with 196 plow trucks and other equipment prepared to combat snow and ice storms this winter across the 286-mile Tollway System. The Tollway has about 80,000 tons of salt on hand along with other supplies, including liquid calcium chloride and angular crushed stone. Stockpiled salt supplies are well in excess of the average 69,000 tons typically used during a single winter season.
"With the majority of roadway improvement projects now complete across the Illinois Tollway system, drivers will find congestion relief and fewer potholes this winter,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. "But we still encourage drivers to be prepared for winter conditions, use caution and watch out for snow plows and other crews working to clear the way."
Other safety tips include:
• Don’t crowd the plow – a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
• Watch out for black ice roads that appear clear but can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, and shady areas - all are prone to black ice.
• Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
• Do not travel unless absolutely necessary - if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
• Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
• Carry a cell phone and dial *999 for roadway assistance.
• Always wear a safety belt.
• Motorists are urged to check travel conditions before any trip.
You can get interstate condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at www.gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.