EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) are urging drivers to avoid unnecessary travel during the upcoming winter storm Monday night into Tuesday.
The agencies will be implementing various speed and vehicle restrictions throughout the winter weather event.
PennDOT and PTC say crews are actively pre-treating roadways where necessary to prevent ice from forming on the roadways during the early stages of a storm. Officials say salting the roadways does not rule out all risks and drivers may still encounter icy spots.
PennDOT says temperatures freeze, roads that look wet may be icy, and extra caution should be used when approaching bridges and highway ramps.
Under the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan, the following vehicle restrictions will go into effect at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13:
PA Turnpike (I-76) from New Stanton (Exit 75) to Breezewood (Exit 161).
Interstate 78, entire length.
I-80 from I-79 to milepost 173 (Lamar).
I-99, entire length.
U.S. 22 from I-78 to the New Jersey border.
Route 33, entire length.
PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476) from I-78 to I-80.
Tier 4 (no commercial vehicles):
I-80 from milepost 173 (Lamar) to the New Jersey border.
I-81 from I-78 to the New York border.
I-84, entire length.
I-180, entire length.
I-380, entire length.
PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476) from I-80 to Clarks Summit (Exit 130).
Under Tier 2 restrictions, the following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:
Tractors without trailers.
Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers.
Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers.
Tractors towing loaded tandem trailers without chains or Alternate Traction Devices (ATDs).
Enclosed, unloaded, or lightly loaded cargo delivery trucks/box trucks that meet the definition of a CMV.
Passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers.
School buses, commercial buses, and motor coaches, regardless of the availability of trains or ATDs.
Tire chains or ATDs do not need to be installed under Tier 2 restrictions but need to be available for use should the vehicle become stuck and not be able to move because of poor traction.
When Tier 4 restrictions are in place, no commercial vehicles are permitted on the roadways.
Officials say all school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles, RVs/motorhomes, and passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.
On roadways where vehicles are not restricted, commercial vehicle drivers are encouraged to exercise caution in high winds, ensure their loads are secure, reduce speeds, increase following distance, and use flashers if necessary.
Drivers should prepare or restock their emergency kits with items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Drivers should make their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication, and pet supplies.
When winter weather occurs, drivers should 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.
The Pennsylvania State Police offers this advice if you are involved in a crash:
First and foremost, move your vehicle as far as possible from the travel lanes if it’s able to be driven. Remaining in the lanes of travel when your vehicle can be driven is extremely dangerous.
If your vehicle or another involved vehicle is not able to be driven due to damage, or if one of the involved parties is injured, PA law requires the crash to be reported to police. Do this by dialing 911 right away.
If your vehicle is disabled in the lane of travel or stuck in the travel lanes due to snow or ice, remain inside the vehicle with your seatbelt on and hazard lights activated. If it’s not safe to remain inside your vehicle, assess the situation and get yourself and your passengers to a place of safety such as behind a barrier or guardrail. When exiting your vehicle, move as quickly as possible and DO NOT remain in the travel lanes or near your vehicle.
When encountering a crash scene, the law requires you to move over if possible and always slow down. First responders will be active at the scene and focused on helping those involved in the crash and getting the road back open.
Motorists are reminded the law requires drivers to remove accumulated ice or snow from their vehicle, including the hood, trunk, and roof within 24 hours after the storm has ended. This applies to all vehicles, including commercial vehicles. Drivers in violation of the law are subject to a fine of $50. Additionally, motorists can be cited up to $1,500 if snow or ice is dislodged and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious injury.
For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit www.PennDOT.gov/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at www.PennDOT.gov/safety.
To help make better decisions regarding winter travel, drivers are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on the roadways, including color-coded winter conditions on by visiting 511PA.