11/16/10 As the cold and snow of winter prepares to move into Northern Indiana, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s (INDOT) top priority is snow and ice removal. INDOT uses all available resources to keep roads open, maximize the mobility of the traveling public and help minimize accidents due to winter traveling conditions.

This winter, drivers will be able to track conditions of the roads across the state. The website www.trafficwise.in.gov will be updated during snow events to let drivers know if road conditions are good, fair or difficult. The information will also be available by calling 800-261-ROAD (7623). In addition to the road conditions, visitors to the website will be able to see National Weather Service watches and warnings.

The LaPorte District maintains about 5,000 of the state’s 30,000 lane miles of state highways and interstates. INDOT workers pre-treat state roads with anti-icing materials throughout the day to help melt snow and ice as it begins to fall. After snow begins to accumulate, the LaPorte District uses 174 snow plows to begin clearing state highways safely and quickly.

A snow route averages 2-3 hours in length, depending on the conditions. This year, some snow routes were redesigned, eliminating sub-district boundaries to determine the most efficient routes possible.

Because every winter storm is unique, INDOT implements specific strategies appropriate for the conditions. For example, salt may not be used during a snowstorm with high winds because the salt would act as a magnet for all snow blowing across the roadway. Trucks may only plow roadways during a blizzard, because putting down salt in such a heavy snow event does little to keep the road clear. Salt and anti-icing materials are used before and after blizzards.

It’s also important to recognize that salt only melts snow and ice as long as moisture is present and the temperature is 15 degrees or warmer. INDOT utilizes chemicals to help lower the melting point of salt when it’s necessary.

The biggest impact to safe winter travel begins and ends with driver behavior. Drivers are urged to use caution as snow is cleared from roadways. INDOT asks drivers to keep the following safety tips in mind during any winter weather event.

  • ACCELERATE GRADUALLY on ice or snow to avoid slipping and sliding
  • DRIVE SLOWLY and carefully to avoid rear-end collisions and sliding on curves
  • ALLOW GREATER DISTANCE behind the car ahead; it takes more time to stop on snow and ice
  • BRAKE EARLY, break slowly, never slam on the brakes; if you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it; if you don’t, gently pump the pedal
  • NO CRUISE CONTROL, avoid abrupt steering maneuvers
  • GIVE SNOWPLOWS ROOM to operate; don’t tailgate or try to pass

In winter weather, drivers should remember “Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!” More information is available at www.winterdrivingsafety.in.gov.