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Tuesday, January 17 2017

Stay Safe on the Roads in Winter Weather

Adapted from a MassDOT press release:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has issued a Winter Weather Advisory and advises the public to use caution on the drive home from work today, and for travel to destinations through the day tomorrow, as forecasters are calling for weather that includes a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow depending upon the region of the state.

Snow and ice accumulations over the northern half of Western and Central Massachusetts could make for a slick evening commute. With temperatures also dropping below the freezing point this evening, drivers should be mindful of the potential for ‘black ice’ and slick roadway conditions throughout the Commonwealth.  In some regions of Massachusetts, MassDOT crews began pre-treating roads this morning in anticipation of inclement weather.

Drivers are encouraged to lower their speeds during inclement weather and use the appropriate resources to make an informed decision regarding their travel plans. MassDOT strongly urges drivers to always wear their seatbelts, minimize distractions, turn off or put away cellphones, and devote their full attention to what is on the road ahead.

Travelers are also encouraged to stay behind snow removal equipment on the roadways. Drivers should think of the phrase “Don’t Crowd the Plow” and plan to stay behind equipment in lanes of travel, not cut between vehicles in a convoy that are treating the roads, and not try to pass around storm-related vehicles.  A fully loaded plow truck weighs roughly 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle, which can lead to a dangerous situation for drivers that are following too closely behind a truck or are distracted and not devoting their full attention to the roadway.

As an example of the danger of failing to give snowplow drivers extra space, please see this video of a tractor trailer truck passing and clipping a snowplow in Utah and sending the plow truck off the road and through a guardrail. Fortunately the plow driver in this video is expected to make a full recovery and meanwhile, the driver of the tractor trailer was issued a citation by law enforcement.

For updates on road and traffic conditions in Massachusetts, drivers can:
*Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads.
*Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
*Follow MassDOT on Twitter (@MassDOT) to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions and MassDOT’s efforts to treat major highways throughout the Commonwealth.

Other important winter driving tips include:
*Clear snow and ice from all car windows and lights, the hood, and the roof before driving.
*Leave plenty of room for stopping.
*Remember that posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
*Use brakes carefully; brake early and brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
*Remember that bridge decks freeze first, due to the difference in exposure to air, so their surface condition can be worse than on the approach road.
*Be aware that exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter, since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line.
*Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows; stay back at least 200 feet and don't pass on the right.
*Most importantly please remember to slow down.
*Also, seat belts should be worn at all times; it's the law.

More information on safe winter driving can be found at: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/departments/snowice/safewinterdrivingtips.aspx

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