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November 14, 2006

IDOT, ISP make preparations for winter driving; motorists to prepare themselves and their vehicles
Drivers and equipment get prepped for snow removal efforts

CHICAGO—Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin, and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent urged motorists to prepare themselves and their vehicles for winter driving conditions. Also, IDOT crews from around Illinois are making final preparations to get the state’s frontline personnel and equipment ready for winter emergencies. 

“Winter weather will be upon us shortly, in fact this year we’ve already had accumulation in some parts of Chicago and Northern Illinois, so it’s important for motorists to get ready now because Illinois weather can become dangerous in a matter of minutes,” Secretary Martin said. “Our plow teams have spent the past several weeks running routes, getting refresher training and preparing plows, spreaders, trucks and all of the other equipment we need to clear the roads of ice and snow.”

IDOT scaled back mowing and other activities in order to save funds for fighting wintry weather.  Snow removal is a safety issue and a top priority for the department. Because of conservation efforts earlier this year IDOT will maintain its clear pavement policy; meaning plow crews will stay out until a storm has passed and the highways are all free of accumulation. IDOT financial staff will closely monitor winter related expenses, but at no time will snow removal operations suffer because of financial considerations.

During the 2006-2007 winter season, more than 3,000 IDOT employees and nearly 2,000 pieces of equipment will be utilized in keeping state routes clear and passable. Last year IDOT spent $34.9 million dollars on snow removal efforts, that cost includes an estimated 324,000 tons of salt and 482,200 labor hours.

 “Winter provides new challenges and responsibilities to the public and the Illinois State Police,” said Director Larry Trent. “We ask that drivers be prepared to meet the challenge of the upcoming winter season in Illinois.  Plan ahead, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained, drive defensively and make sure the vehicle is properly maintained to handle the effects of cold temperatures.”

Other safety tips include:

•Make sure your vehicle is winterized—check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, defroster, wipers and windshield washers, etc.
•Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
•Dress warmly for the weather—dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
•Do not travel unless absolutely necessary—if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and plan ahead with safety in mind.
•Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
•Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
•Carry a cell phone.
•Always wear a safety belt.  

Motorists are urged to check travel conditions before any trip. You may get interstate condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or on the Internet at www.gettingaroundillinois.com.


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