Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is advising motorists to closely monitor weather forecasts and conditions as a storm system is anticipated to impact most of the state, with many areas expected to see precipitation during the Tuesday rush hours.
The storm is forecast to be followed by a brutal cold front that could bring icy conditions and sudden snow squalls.
“While many parts of the state may not see significant accumulations, it is critical to always be mindful of conditions and keep safety top of mind when driving in inclement weather,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Our crews are prepared to take on these conditions, and we call on the public to allow themselves extra time, drive according to conditions, and postpone travel if necessary.”
Due to potential snowfall rates and accumulations, PennDOT and the PA Turnpike are prohibiting empty tractor trailers and commercial vehicles pulling double trailers, RV/motorhomes, and motorcycles on the following Interstates beginning at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, January 29, and tentatively lifting (condition-dependent) at 6 p.m. on the same day:
• Interstate 380 full length from I-81 to I-80;
• I-78 full length from I-81 to the New Jersey state line;
• I-80 from I-180 to the New Jersey state line;
• I-81 from I-83 to the New York state line;
• I-84 full length from I-81 to the New York state line; and
• I-476 (PA Turnpike, Northeast Ext.) from I-78 to Clarks Summit (exit 131).
See a map of vehicle restrictions going into effect tomorrow at www.penndot.gov. Speed restrictions on Interstates and expressways may be implemented as the storm progresses.
To help make decisions regarding winter travel, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
A vehicle emergency kit should be prepared or restocked containing items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.
Motorists should be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. 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.
When winter weather occurs, PennDOT urges drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:
• Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
• Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
• When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
• Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a "plow train." The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
• Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can't see, and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
• Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle's wipers are on due to inclement weather.
In addition to driving safely around plows, motorists are urged to drive according to conditions. 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 440 crashes resulting in 221 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.
PennDOT has created a Winter Safety media center, including social-media-sized graphics highlighting winter driving preparations and operations at www.penndot.gov in the “Media Center” under the “About Us” footer.
For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit PennDOT.gov/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at PennDOT.gov/safety.
To report an accident or other emergencies on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone. If there is an accident, move the car out of travel lane and onto shoulder, if possible, and stay in the vehicle. For more information about PA Turnpike conditions follow the conversation by using https://www.paturnpike.com/travel/twitter.aspx. You may also see advisories by clicking on the travel ticker on www.PATurnpike.com.