PennDOT says it’s ready for winter’s wrath

Even if area motorists aren’t ready for snow, PennDOT says it is.

PennDOT says all its plows are equipped with technology that will enable the public to track them.

PennDOT says all its plows are equipped with technology that will enable the public to track them.

“Our residents count on PennDOT to keep them moving regardless of the weather and we take that mission very seriously,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards Richards said during a press conference this week at the PennDOT maintenance facility in Norristown. “We have our materials and equipment in place and our staff of dedicated equipment operators, district-level staff and staff in maintenance and operations are ready to go.”

New this year: All of the more than 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks will be equipped with AVL technology so that the public can view the trucks on interstates and expressways this winter at PennDOT started the AVL program in 2014 with 119 plow trucks and expanded it to more than 700 trucks last winter, a PennDOT press release said.

Want to see if a plow is getting close to your neighborhood? The AVL unit in each truck sends a cellular signal through the system showing where a truck is located and whether or how much material is being spread from the truck, the release said.

Richards noted that PennDOT has compiled all of its information about winter series into a special page on its website at The site also has a complete winter guide with detailed information about winter services in each of PennDOT’s 11 engineering districts.

PennDOT said it has more than 768,000 tons of salt on hand across the state. The state’s plows are equipped with computerized salt spreaders that allow operators to calibrate the exact amount of salt to be distributed regardless of the speed of the truck.

When winter weather hits, PennDOT’s primary focus is on interstates and expressways, and equipment may be redirected to those routes during significant winter events. The more traffic a roadway has, the more attention it will receive from plows, so motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions, the release said.

Richards suggested that vehicle preparation is critical to safe winter travel. If motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 224 crashes resulting in 103 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors, the release said.

Tires should be checked often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire-tread depth to perform on ice and snow. A quick way to check tread depth is to insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the entire head, the tires are worn and traction will suffer.

Once vehicles are travel-ready, drivers, especially those traveling long distance, should be prepared for emergencies with kits that include items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, or even children's games, the release said.

Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 800 traffic cameras.


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