CHICAGO - Illinois transportation and law enforcement officials today stressed safety by urging motorists to prepare for unfavorable winter driving conditions. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police (ISP) have partnered to roll out the state’s frontline winter crews and ensure that emergency equipment is ready for the upcoming snow and ice season.
“The historic snowfall amounts last year tested IDOT’s relentless 24/7 operation, in which staff and partners worked tirelessly, safely and effectively to remove heavy amounts of snow and ice from roadways in the most treacherous conditions,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “We are proud to partner again with the Illinois State Police and Illinois Tollway to encourage all motorists to slow down, buckle up, cooperate with snow plows and always have an emergency kit in their vehicle for unexpected weather conditions. Safety is always the number one priority at IDOT.”
During the 2011-2012 winter season, more than 3,690 employees and 1,732 pieces of equipment will be available for deployment as needed by IDOT to keep state routes clear and passable. Last year, the agency spent $84.6 million on snow removal and spread 562,220 tons of salt.
For many years, ISP, Tollway and IDOT have worked together to urge motorists to drive defensively and safely in winter weather.
"Illinois State Police districts are coordinating road safety plans with the Tollway and IDOT to ensure that our traffic enforcement priorities include safe driving, safe roads, and safe access for all citizens during the winter months," said ISP Division of Operations Colonel Mark Piccoli.
On the Illinois Tollway, more than 400 employees are ready with 183 plow trucks and other equipment prepared to combat snow and ice storms this winter across the 286-mile Tollway system in Northern Illinois. 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 86,000 tons typically used during a single winter season.
“The Illinois Tollway works year-round to prepare for the winter season and make sure our roadways are safe and reliable for our customers,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Drivers should be prepared for winter driving conditions and remember to dial *999 if they’re in need of H.E.L.P. truck assistance on the Illinois Tollway.”
Other safety tips include:
• Don’t crowd the plow – a snow plow 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 help 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 road 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.