Pennsylvania Governor Wolf announces new winter travel tool, pre - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf announces new winter travel tool, preparation tips for drivers

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) -

With the winter season approaching, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that a new online tool is available to inform the public of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) operations this winter.

He made the announcement in conjunction with a news conference that PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards held Thursday outlining the agency's plans for winter services, and sharing job opportunities and driver preparation tips.
 
"Public safety is our principal mission, which drives our team's preparation for the winter season," said Governor Wolf. "Not only are PennDOT's staff, equipment, and materials ready to go, but we also have yet another tool for the public to make winter travel decisions."
 
New this winter, the public can view a color-coded map of when each of the nearly 40,000 miles of state-maintained roadway was last plowed by visiting the plow trucks section found here.

The information is the latest enhancement made possible by PennDOT's Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) technology, which uses units in each of the more than 2,200 department-owned and rented plow trucks to send a cellular signal showing truck locations.
 
During the news conference at the PennDOT maintenance facility in Norristown, Montgomery County, Richards noted that PennDOT is actively seeking approximately 480 temporary equipment operators statewide for the winter season to supplement the department's full-time staff.

Details on minimum requirements, such as possession of a CDL, as well as application information, are available here.

Through this same website, job seekers can apply for seven other types of non-operator, winter positions such as diesel and construction equipment mechanics, welders, clerks and more.
 
In discussing PennDOT's readiness for the season ahead, Richards said the department has compiled its information about winter services and winter-driving resources for motorists on its website

A few of their winter driving tips are:

  • Carry a winter emergency travel kit.

  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as "black ice."

  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.

  • State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.

  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. State law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.

  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).

  • If you do become stranded, it's better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.

A list of items PennDOT advises you to keep in your winter emergency travel kit includes:

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Battery-operated radio

  • Jumper cables

  • Cellphone and charger

  • Snow shovel

  • Matches and candles

  • First aid supplies

  • Extra warm clothing and gloves

  • Blanket

  • Ice scraper

  • Sand

  • Bottled water

  • Non-perishable food

  • Anything else you may need to accommodate family traveling with you (special medication, baby supplies, pet food, etc.)

The site also has a complete winter guide with detailed information about winter services in each of PennDOT's 11 engineering districts, as well as preparing your vehicle and driveway tips for winter conditions. 
 
With $220 million budgeted for this winter's statewide operations, PennDOT deploys about 4,800 on-the-road workers, has more than 652,000 tons of salt on hand across the state and will take salt deliveries throughout the winter.

"Carrying out our winter mission is a massive undertaking for our team, and it's critical that the public do their part to keep our roads as safe as possible," said Richards. "Drivers should keep safety top of mind in their travel decisions, and give our operators and other motorists plenty of room during inclement weather."

When winter weather hits, PennDOT's primary focus is on interstates and expressways, and equipment may be redirected to those routes during significant winter events.

The more traffic a roadway has, the more attention it will receive from plows, so motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those 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 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. 

In addition to viewing plow information, motorists can use the 511PA website to check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles.

511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 850 traffic cameras.

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.

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