COUNTY—Keeping in mind the stormy start to winter, Wayne County residents are reminded to ensure their mailboxes are reinforced to weather winter's fury.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reminds residents that damage done to mailboxes is the responsibility of the owner, as they are allowed to exist within the right-of-way “out of respect for the U.S. Postal Service's need to deliver.”

PennDOT reminds residents to ensure their mailbox has a sturdy support and recommends they use reflective tape to increase visibility on dark or stormy days.

The department also suggests installing a cantilevered mailbox support as detailed in this story's accompanying picture.

Such a construction will allow for the box to pivot if struck rather than snap at the base.

Residents should also be sure to clear snow from around the mailbox often, depositing it in a proper manner to avoid obscuring sight distances or the roadway.

In terms of snow removal for driveways, PennDOT advises residents to pile the precipitate to the right side of one's residential exit.

Additionally, PennDOT suggests clearing an area to the left side of one's driveway so that passing plows can unload their haul before they get to the driveway.

More information is provided in the accompanying graphic.

Winter travel

“Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 252 crashes resulting in 129 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors,” states a PennDOT release, urging drivers to be safe while driving this winter.

PennDOT also reminds motorists that roads will not be cleared while snow is falling.

“Why not? If snow is falling at one inch per hour, for example, and a truck takes three hours to return to the start of its route, three inches of snow has fallen,” states a release.

The amount of time it takes to plow depends in part on how clear the roads are, not only of precipitation, but also of traffic.

As such, PennDOT notes that busy roads may delay plow time, and encourages motorist to avoid traveling if possible until the roads have been cleared.

If drivers are out while the plows are going through, PennDOT advises motorists remain at least six car lengths behind any plows they encounter, remain alert, and refrain from passing them.

Motorists should also avoid riding next to plow trucks or multi-truck “plow trains” on multi-lane roads, as blind spots and spraying snow may present a hazard for smaller vehicles.

While PennDOT trucks work to pre-treat roads with salt, anti-skid and brine mixtures, the agency reminds travelers that said methods are not fool-proof.

Salt alone is less effective at temperatures below 25 degrees F. It is also less effective on low-volume roads where traffic is not crushing and spreading the salt.

According to a release, “On the state's lowest-traffic roadways, PennDOT will focus its salt/anti-skid usage on areas like hills, bridges, intersections, sharp curves or freezing-prone areas.”

PennDOT recommends regular inspection of vehicle fluid levels and safety systems when driving in winter months.

Additionally, the department reminds motorists that all snow and ice need be removed from their vehicles prior to traveling.

“If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine,” a release states.

Drivers are also encouraged to travel with an emergency kit in case they are stranded on the side of the road for an extended period of time.

An itemized list of appropriate kit inclusions can be found on PennDOT's website.

Information regarding the clearest routes to travel, road conditions, and the progress of winter maintenance crews can be found online at www.511pa.com or by calling 511.

—Information from a release was used in this story.