JEFFERSON CITY - It may seem odd to be thinking about snow when most of Missouri is experiencing temperatures in the 60s, but because Missouri weather is so unpredictable, the Missouri Department of Transportation prepares all its equipment and supplies for the first snowfall by Nov. 1.
"If we get ice and snow early this year, we will be ready," said Jim Carney, MoDOT state maintenance engineer. "We're stocked up on salt and our equipment is in top shape."
Bad weather can lead to dire consequences. In 2008, 30 people were killed, 322 seriously injured and 2,536 received minor injuries in traffic crashes when there was snow, ice or slush on the roadway. Driving too fast for conditions and inattention were the top contributing factors in traffic crashes during the winter months last year.
"Slowing down is just common sense, but it is a great reminder, especially after a long season of warm weather," said Carney, state maintenance engineer. "Many of us have forgotten how to drive on a slick road, and the best things you can do is slow down and pay attention."
Although MoDOT works hard to clear roads fast and make them safe for motorists, it is also the motorist's job to drive cautiously, pay extra attention to signs and drive defensively.
MoDOT provides a traveler information map at http://www.modot.org/ with current road conditions to help drivers determine when it's safe to travel. The map shows which roads are covered, partly covered, and clear.
MoDOT uses a priority system of routes to determine which roadways are cleared first and get traffic moving as quickly as possible. The following are priority levels for snow and ice-removal:
- Priority 1: Highest traffic-volume roadways are cleared first, including interstates and other major routes. These roads receive continuous treatment throughout a storm.
- Priority 2: Lower-volume, lettered or numbered routes are opened to two-way traffic and treated with salt at critical areas such as intersections, hills and curves.
After the storm during regular work hours, workers clean up accumulation on shoulders, bridge edges and interchanges.
Annually MoDOT spends approximately $41 million on snow and ice removal. Last year, approximately 3,000 employees spent more than 465,639 hours using the 1,650 snow-removal vehicles.
"Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass plows," 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 http://www.modot.org/ or call 888-ASK MODOT. Recorded road-condition information is available at (800) 222-6400.
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Winter Driving Safety Tips
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.