Transportation department gives winter driving advice

Published 11:10 am Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter looks to officially be here, bringing a host of potential driving hazards from blinding snow to black ice.

Due to the hilly terrain in southern Ohio, Lawrence County drivers deal with problems the rest of Ohio drivers do not have to worry about, Transportation District 9 Lawrence County Garage Transportation Manager Bill Patrick said.

“Hills make Lawrence County special,” Patrick said. “Our trucks have to deal with roads other counties just don’t have to worry about. Black ice forms on those hills and ridges and people think they can just go down them at normal speeds – but they can’t.”

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Patrick said the speed limit does not apply during inclement weather. Even though the speed limit may be 55 mph, he said drivers should go slower depending on the severity of the weather.

“Sometimes people think they are safe because they know our trucks have treated the roads,” Patrick said. “But when the weather is really bad there is no guarantee of a safe road, and people need to know they can’t just drive like they would on a clear warm day.”

When weather reports indicate inclement weather is on the way, Patrick said crews will sometimes go out to pre-treat the roads to help keep them safe for drivers. He said Lawrence County has the capability to have 12 crews on the roads at any given time.

Reducing speed while driving is one of the key things a driver can do to stay safe, said Kathleen Fuller, District 9 public information officer. But it is also important for drivers to start earlier than normal to ensure they can maintain slower speeds, she said.

“Remember the basics,” Fuller said. “The road doesn’t have to have ice to be dangerous, wet roads can also be hazardous. We understand things don’t stop just because the weather is bad however, people still need to get out and go to school, work or the grocery store. Just remember to be smart, reducing your speed goes a long way in reducing accidents.”

Fuller also said drivers should take into account limited daylight, deer and other animals and maintaining extra distance behind fellow drivers when on the road when dealing with rain and ice.

The ODOT will be using pulsing green lights on their snow removal vehicles starting this year. Fuller said drivers should not drive too close to the trucks as they are large vehicles and it is difficult for the drivers to see around them.