Preparing for Winter
SIKESTON --With temperatures dipping down toward freezing now, area motorists should begin thinking about slowing down and taking care while on the road.
"This time of year they have to be cautious of frost on bridges early in the morning," said Keith Gentry, maintenance superintendent for the the Missouri Department of Transportation's southeast district.
Bridges will freeze before other parts of the road, he noted. "They wont realize it until they are up on the bridge, hit their brakes, and that causes problems," Gentry said.
Gentry said although he hasn't received any information on what kind of winter the southeast district can expect, MoDOT's maintenance crews are ready to respond to this year's first snow.
"We've get pretty good stock of salt here on hand being as we had a pretty mild winter last year," he said. "We're not sitting too bad in District 10."
Jim Carney, state maintenance engineer, said in a recent press release that while MoDOT works hard to clear roads quickly and make them safe, it is up to the motorists to drive cautiously, pay extra attention and drive defensively.
Most of the problems motorists have with slick roads happen early in the winter season, MoDOT's engineers said.
"It's usually the first snow we have," Gentry said. "It's like people forget how to drive on the snow. They think they can continue driving 60-70 miles per hour like they are used to and tailgate. It's usually not too bad after the first one or two snows."
"It's common sense, but it is a great reminder, especially after a long season of warm weather," Carney said, adding "the best thing you can do is slow down."
"If the roads are bad, just slow down and allow yourself more time," Gentry said.
According to a recent press release, Missouri and 10 other Midwestern states have formed a group called called Clear Roads, a pooled-fund winter highway maintenance research project that will work to spread the message: "Ice and Snow, Take it Slow."
The campaign will include posters, public service announcements on the radio and will pass along travel tips and information about road conditions through media outlets during winter weather events.
While it can be frustrating to be behind a snowplow, Gentry asked motorists to "be patient with the folks that are trying to get the roads clean," whether it is MoDOT, city or county crews working.
A priority system is used by MoDOT in clearing roads to keep traffic moving as quickly as possible.
The first priority is clear the highest traffic-volume roadways first such as intestates and other major routes. These roads also receive continuous treatment during a winter storm.
The second priority is lower-volume, lettered and numbered routes. These roads are opened to two-way traffic and are treated at critical areas such as intersections, hills and curves.
Accumulation on shoulders, bridge edges and interchanges are then addressed after the storm during regular work hours.
"Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass," Carney said. "We want everyone to get home safely. Always buckle up, and remember, when driving in Ice and Snow, Take It Slow."
For information on road conditions across the state, safe traveling tips and a diagram on driveway clearing techniques, visit www.modot.org or call 888-
Recorded road-condition information is available at 800-222-6400.
>Slow down for wet, snowy, icy conditions.
>Avoid quick braking or acceleration.
>Find out about driving conditions before you go.
>Every time you travel -- Buckle Up.
>Turn signals, brake lights and windows need to be clear of snow.
>You should never use cruise control in winter weather conditions.