Big rigs are being urged to stay off the state's highways and anyone on the roads needs to give snowplows a wide berth as a snowstorm moves through Maryland, say state transportation officials.
The heaviest snow of the season so far threatens to create hazardous road conditions throughout Maryland. State Highway Administration crews and contractors will plow during the storm, working to keep roads passable for emergency vehicles, the agency says in a news release. However, blowing snow can quickly change a road from passable to covered.
Forecasts predict temperatures will drastically fall Tuesday afternoon, causing possible problems with road icing. Winds will also become gusty, especially along and southeast of the I-95 corridor, with gusts of 35-45 mph developing Wednesday afternoon. Elsewhere, gusts should be in the 20-30 mph range. This will be enough to cause some blowing and drifting snow, reducing visibility. Anyone on the roads should sue low beam headlights – wipers on, lights on, it’s the law.
“Please heed the warnings to stay off the roads this afternoon – it will not be safe to be out later today in heavy, blowing snow with frigid temperatures,” cautioned SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters in the advisory. “SHA crews will continue to plow and battle Mother Nature; however, it will take four to six hours to reach bare pavement after precipitation stops, which isn’t predicted to happen until late tonight.”
Truck drivers should stay off the highway and can find emergency parking at park and ride locations. Those locations can be found on SHA’s website at www.roads.maryland.gov by clicking the “emergency truck parking” icon and using the interactive map to find safe refuge until after the storm stops.
Drivers will encounter “plow trains” where trucks line up in each lane and clear snow left to right. Under no circumstances should drivers try to cut through or go around a plow train, the release says, and to give plows a wide berth on all sides.
To check on the status at airports, train stations or bus terminals, call 511 for traffic, weather alerts and road conditions. Visit www.MD511.org or www.chart.md.gov to view live traffic cameras and maps. Follow the SHA on Facebook and Twitter and log onto www.roads.maryland.gov to get more tips for safe winter weather driving.
Patch has these tips for driving on snow-covered and icy roads.
Don’t slam on your brakes. If you’re sliding on a patch of ice, hitting the brakes harder won’t stop you. Experts advise that you go against your natural tendencies and turn into the skid. You also need to accelerate. Learn more about how to safely brake in snow and how to exit a skid here.
Slow down. Driving too quickly for the conditions is the biggest cause of snow crashes, according to Edmunds.com.
Leave room. It can take a driver twice as long (and twice as much space) to stop a vehicle when driving in snow versus driving on dry pavement. You should leave twice as much room as you normally would between you and other vehicles on the road.
Or, don’t drive. If you can avoid driving in when roads are covered in snow or ice, that’s probably your safest bet. Walk when it is safe to do so.
Have an emergency kit and good supplies. In the winter months, AAA recommends that you keep the following items in your vehicle:
- A bag of abrasive material like sand, salt or kitty litter to sprinkle under your tires if you get stuck.
- A small snow shovel.
- An ice scraper.
- Windshield washer fluid.
- Jumper cables.
- Extra-warm items like blankets, hats and gloves.
- Water and snack food.
- First-aid kit.
What winter driving tips do you have to share? Tell us in comments.