Pennsylvanians Reminded to Be Vigilant as Winter Storm Continues Path Across State
February 12, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians and those traveling in the state to be vigilant as a winter storm continues throughout the day and overnight into Wednesday, changing over to a wintry mix moving north and east. As the storm winds down, more snow, followed by gusty wind conditions, could make driving treacherous.
“Stay safe out there, everyone,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s a wintry mess and we want everyone to use extreme caution when driving, shoveling, and while enjoying the snow. PEMA continues to monitor the storm and remains in contract with state agencies and local emergency management personnel to ensure all needs are met. PennDOT is treating roads and plowing to help travelers who must be on the road. Heed local emergency personnel and look out for your neighbors, especially the elderly, as we get through this winter storm.”
PennDOT and the PA Turnpike have implemented travel restrictions through the storm, which are being evaluated hourly. Depending on conditions, restrictions may be expanded or reduced. See a map of restrictions in effect, www.511PA.com.
Governor Wolf signed an emergency declaration in January that authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of the storm’s impacts. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.
It is important to note that the declaration does not restrict citizens from travel on commonwealth roadways, but motorists should be aware of restrictions that are in place and heed the guidance of local authorities.
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 with 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.
PEMA works with county emergency management personnel to monitor unmet local needs during inclement weather affecting travel, utilities, and shelter. You are encouraged to monitor state agency social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on any emergency or weather-related situation affecting the state, in addition to any social media accounts for your local emergency management offices.
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.
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 on Twitter. You may also see advisories by clicking on the travel ticker on www.PATurnpike.com.
The Public Utility Commission reminds residents to always consider safety when dealing with any storm-related power outages, including:
- Call your utility hotline about all outages – don’t assume that someone else has reported the problem.
- Stay clear of any downed power lines, along with trees or other objects that may be in contact with those lines.
- If you use a generator, do NOT run it inside your home or garage, and do NOT connect it to your home’s electrical system.
- Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages unless it involves a dangerous situation, such as live wires on a road or a fire.
- Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.
- The commission continues to monitor utility issues across the state and coordinate closely with the governor’s office and the other state agencies involved in storm response.
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.