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November 29, 2012

DOT offers tips for safe winter driving

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — With the air cooling and the season of snow storms approaching, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald reminded motorists to check 511NY before traveling in winter weather conditions and provided tips for driving safely, according to a media release from the agency.

“Winter storms can produce freezing rain, snow or ice, each of which comes with its own hazards for motorists,” Commissioner McDonald said in the release. “Motorists should refresh themselves with important safety tips and should remember that 511NY provides an extremely useful tool to help drivers know what to expect when traveling and to determine if conditions are safe for travel.”

New Yorkers can access DOT’s free 511NY traffic and travel information system, which provides real-time travel information, by calling 511 or visiting www.511NY.org. The website features a winter travel advisory system, with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help drivers determine if travel is advisable.

The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.When using 511NY, drivers must be aware that talking on a cell phone and texting while driving are illegal and that distracted driving is particularly hazardous during snow and ice conditions. Users should consult 511NY before traveling, or have a passenger access the system for information.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

• Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;

• Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;

• Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;

• Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;

• Watch for black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;

• Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;

• Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;

• Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;

• Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and

• Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

In addition to following these safety tips, motorists can visit the Department’s website, www.dot.ny.gov/programs/driver-safety for informative safety applications. The site features an interactive safe driving experience that includes tips for driving safely in winter weather conditions, a video demonstrating the proper method for steering out of a skid, a winter driving quiz and a video that allows visitors to experience the conditions snowplow operators face each winter.