North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has proclaimed October 29 through November 2, Severe Winter Weather Awareness Week, reminding people to prepare for inclement weather to assure everyone remains safe during the coming winter months. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) wants you to be prepared for travel this season by checking road conditions before you go. NDDOT currently offers two easy ways to find the latest road conditions; calling 511 from any phone and by checking the Travel Information Map at www.dot.nd.gov.
“The Travel Information Map and 511 system are the best place to access road condition information across the state,” said Brandon Beise, NDDOT Maintenance Division. “We have added more cameras and streaming video to the Travel Map to allow you see the actual weather and road conditions.”
Motorists calling into 511 can simply choose their route, location and direction of the desired roadway segment through touch-tone or voice activation. With frequently changing weather, motorists need to check conditions often and pay special attention to ensure safe travel. To arrive at your destination safely, motorists should follow some basic safety tips while behind the wheel:
· Slow down and drive according to the conditions
· Never use cruise control on wet or icy roadways
· Keep a safe distance from snowplows and other vehicles
· Turn on your head lights. Remove snow from your vehicle that could cover your tail lights
Sharing the road with snowplows is also an important factor for motorists to remember this winter. By following a few basic tips, you and your passengers can reach your destination safely:
· Stay back. Sometimes snowplows have to stop and back up and they often spread sanding material.
· Know where the plow is on multi-lane roadways. The plow could be in either lane or on the shoulder.
· Be extremely cautious when passing a snowplow. They can be moved sideways by snow drifts and hard snow pack.
· Never drive through “white-outs” caused by cross winds or plowing light snow. Be patient and wait until you can see. Snowplows pull over and stop to allow traffic to pass when it is safe to do so.
· Motorists should be aware of the “Move over Law.” If you approach a snow plow or other NDDOT maintenance vehicle with flashing lights that is stopped on the shoulder of a multi-lane road, you must move over to the lane that is not next to the snow plow or vehicle, if it is safe to change lanes.
The NDDOT also releases information to the public about road conditions on state highways. There are three categories you should familiarize yourself with:
· Roads are closed- Motorists are not allowed to travel on a closed road due to life threatening conditions. The road may be impassible or blocked. Motorists who drive past a road closure device may be fined.
· No Travel Advisories- Motorists should not travel due to hazardous conditions which may make it unsafe to travel. Snow plows may be pulled from the roads during severe conditions. Motorists should take NO TRAVEL ADVISED seriously as those motorists who choose to travel at their own risk may become stranded and emergency responders may not be able to reach them safely. A NO TRAVEL ADVISED has the potential to change to a ROAD CLOSED OR BLOCKED if conditions deteriorate.
· Travel Alerts – Motorists can still travel but may encounter areas of challenging winter weather driving conditions on roadways. Motorists should allow extra time to reach their destination and be alert to conditions that may make travel difficult, change rapidly, or cause travel delays. A TRAVEL ALERT has the potential to change to a NO TRAVEL ADVISED if conditions deteriorate.
Remember, to be prepared this winter, know before you go. Check weather and road conditions before traveling. The best place to access current road conditions is by calling 511 or going to the NDDOT’s Travel Information Map at www.dot.nd.gov.