PennDOT: Stranding of Motorists in Other States Brings Reminder for Drivers to Heed Forecast and Warnings, Avoid Travel in Severe Storms

Dec 13, 2010, 15:51 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

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HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 13, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The recent stranding of motorists in Indiana and New York due to severe winter storms carry a reminder that all motorists are responsible for their own safety when they choose to ignore weather forecasts and travel warnings, PennDOT said today.

"Each winter, we see what happens when motorists choose to ignore the weather forecast, potentially endangering their own lives and the lives of first responders whose job it is to keep citizens safe," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. "The bottom line is that safety should be the only consideration when deciding whether to take a gamble with a bad forecast – because the life you save could be your own."

Motorists are reminded that during winter weather events, the department's primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until after precipitation stops and roads are clear. Stranded vehicles only slow those efforts.

"Today's reports of storm-stranded motorists in Indiana are a prime example of what can happen when drivers ignore their own better judgment and take unnecessary risks," Biehler said. "We cannot clear roads if motorists are stuck on them – it's really just that simple."

PennDOT suggests the following tips to prepare for safe winter travel:

  • Pay attention to the weather forecast and postpone travel as necessary.
  • Heed all travel warnings and road closures.
  • Be prepared for rapidly changing weather and road conditions.
  • Be sure your vehicle's tires are rated for mud and snow. In areas prone to heavy snow, consider using tire chains or snow tires.
  • Make certain the heater, defroster and wipers work properly.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket and small snow shovel.

About 5,400 PennDOT employees work hard to keep Pennsylvania roads passable during winter weather. PennDOT reminds motorists that roadways such as interstates and expressways will be its primary focus and at times, the department may redirect equipment to these routes during significant winter events. During these heavier storms, motorists may encounter deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and they should adjust their driving for those conditions.

PennDOT has agreements with more than 700 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their jurisdictions. The department also rents approximately 400 trucks and operators to assist with snow removal as needed.

When preparing for snowy travel, motorists can check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads by calling 511 or visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. The 511 site also provides easy-to-use, color-coded winter road conditions for all interstates and other routes covered in the 511 reporting network.

New this winter, PennDOT has added a 511 Twitter feed so users can subscribe to any or all of the 511 regions or choose to receive 511 alerts statewide.

Follow PennDOT on Twitter at

Media contact: Steve Chizmar, 717-783-8800

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation