PennDOT Winter Driving Safety Tips

pennDOT-logoThe Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has urged motorists to prepare their vehicles and take time to familiarize themselves with winter safety laws.

“It is important for the public to think ahead and take a few simple steps before they travel,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “If they haven’t already, I urge all Pennsylvanians to be prepared for winter driving as the season continues.”

PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards says, “Winter safety starts with all of us, and that includes the equipment we’re using,” Richards said. “Drivers should prepare their vehicles by having a trusted mechanic check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly.”

Drivers should also frequently check all fluid levels, lights and wiper blades as well as tires which should be also be examined often for the correct level of air pressure and adequate tire-tread depth to perform on ice and snow.

Finally, the traveling public should also prepare or restock a vehicle emergency kit. The kit should contain items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.

Motorists should also be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine.

When winter weather does occur, PennDOT asks drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:

  • Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • winter-tires-320x240Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
  • When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
  • Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
  • Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
  • Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.

In addition to driving safely around plows, motorists are urged to drive according to conditions. If motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 252 crashes resulting in 129 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.

To help make decisions as to whether to travel during winter weather, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 850 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.

splash-screen-on-android511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT has created a Winter Safety media center including social-media sized graphics highlighting winter driving preparations and operations at www.penndot.gov in the “Media Center” under the “Connect With Us” footer.

For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit PennDOT.gov/winter.

Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at PennDOT.gov/safety.

Railriders Partner up with PENNDOT

PennDot Railriders photo

As part of a back to school safety month, PennDOT partnered with the Railriders to remind students to be safe when leaving home.

Pictured from left are: Sylvia Chabala, PennDOT intern ; James May, PennDOT Community Relations Coordinator ; Christina Sullivan, Highway Traffic Safety Coordinator for Lackawanna County ; and Jordan Maydole, Director of Community Relations for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.

Dunmorean of the Month: Gary Duncan

Dunmorean of the Month - Gary DuncanBy: Steve Svetovich

For its “Good Works,” the Lackawanna County Commissioners presented Gary Duncan, chairman of the Dunmore Neighborhood Watch program, with a certificate of recognition last month.

The “Good Works” of the Dunmore Neighborhood Crime Watch program serves its community with a dual purpose – safety and education.

Duncan said the organization reports crimes, blight and dangerous areas, which while also alerting residents and watchdogs, tries to be cognizant of abandoned vehicles, vacant homes, graffitti and vandalism.

The group, which meets the third Monday of every month at 7 p.m. In the community room of the Dunmore Community Center, 1414 Monroe Avenue, works in tandem with the Dunmore police department.

Lackawanna County Commissioners Jerry Notarianni, Patrick O’Malley and Laureen A. Cummings presented Duncan with the certificate of recognition.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Duncan said during an interview with The Dunmorean. “I certainly did not know this was coming. I sincerely appreciated that they took the time to acknowledge our contributions to the Dunmore community.”

Duncan, a Dunmore resident for the past 20 years and an occupational therapist for

Dunmorean of the Month - Neighborhood Watch

Dunmore Neighborhood Watch serves its community with a dual purpose – safety and education. For its “Good Works,” the Lackawanna County Commissioners presented its chairman, Gary Duncan with a certificate of recognition.

Traditional Home Health, Dunmore, established the Dunmore Neighborhood Watch group in 2013. About 30-40 residents attend each monthly meeting. Lackawanna County  Commissioner Laureen Cummings attended the most recent meeting.

“Members of the Dunmore police department, the Lackawanna County Probation and Parole office and Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office have attended every meeting,” Duncan said.

“Our goal is to have a city wide group crime watch, or a summit crime watch right at the Dunmore Community Center. We would like to have all the neighborhood crime watch groups meet for a summit right here in Dunmore. We think that can happen.”

Duncan said there will be a community neighborhood walk June 11 in Dunmore. The group will meet and walk in the neighborhood of Larch Street and Adams Avenue and New York Street in the area of Nina’s Pizza and Restaurant.

“Our motto with the Dunmore Neighborhood Watch,” said Duncan, “is you do have a voice. All our welcome.”

Duncan said he is proud that “all members of our police department have been at every single meeting.”

The energized and enthusiastic Duncan said the group has utilized a host of prominent speakers during its monthly meetings. “And we will continue to do so.”

Dunmorean of the Month - Duncan Family

The Duncan Family shown from left: Lynne, Annie, Gary and Claire.

Duncan, a graduate of Misericordia University, and his wife Lynne, a speech therapist at Allied Services, also volunteer for various community organizations. The couple are proud parents of two daughters: Claire, 19, a sophomore in the English honors program at Immaculata University, and Annie, 23, who last month received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Marywood University.

“We will continue to work hard with the Dunmore Neighborhood Watch program to make the borough safe and to educate our residents. We encourage all to attend our monthly meeting.”