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Department of Transportation advises caution on roads

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ALBANY - The New York State Department of Transportation is asking that motorists exercise caution today throughout areas affected by snow and ice precipitation. Drivers are urged to plan their trips in advance, drive below posted speed limits in where road conditions warrant it and take ample time to get to where they need to go.

NYSDOT has more than 400 trucks plowing and pre-treating roadways with salt brine statewide. Roads may get slippery as today’s storm progresses, however, so drivers are encouraged to drive slowly and cautiously, particularly in high terrain and locations where icing conditions are expected.

Travelers are encouraged to check conditions before venturing out by accessing NYSDOT’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 at 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.

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