Far too many winter weather traffic accidents are caused by icy roads.Driving in icy conditions requires a different mindset than on dry pavement. Bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways, so it only takes a slight dusting of snow or a light drizzle of freezing rain to make these areas hazardous. Falling temperatures can create black ice on wet streets making it easy for drivers (especially those who insist on traveling at highway speeds) to lose control of their vehicles. Even advanced automotive technologies like antilock brakes, stability control, and traction control are not sufficient to dependably stop a high-speed slide.
The DOT’s Winter PreparednessDuring winter weather, over 2,100 Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) employees work hard to keep our interstates and state routes in the best possible condition. However, crews cannot be everywhere at once, and their primary goal is just to keep roads passable during winter conditions. Salt trucks and snow plows first focus on clearing at least one or two lanes and on/off ramps on the interstate system, including I-75, I-85, I-20, and I-285. The second focus is on multi-lane state routes, while the last is on two-lane state routes. The state DOT does not clear city roads, county roads, or roads leading into subdivisions. To contact the agency responsible for those roads, you can look up municipality information here.
2015 Georgia DOT’s Response PlanThere are approximately 400 snow removal equipment units that can be moved among Georgia’s seven districts as needed during a winter weather event. In addition, there are roadway sensors in Macon, the metro Atlanta area, and north Georgia that can help more confidently predict weather conditions on roads, including ice, temperature, precipitation, and wind. The DOT’s 2015 winter weather response plan added nine new material storage locations (for a total of 30) to allow for a more targeted response, instituted a brine pretreatment program for metro Atlanta, and mentioned utilizing outreach efforts such as changeable message signs along the transportation network and postings on Facebook and Twitter.
During winter weather, conditions can change rapidly. One of the best ways to stay informed of current road conditions is by dialing 511 or going online to visit a href=”http://www.511ga.org” target=”new”>http://www.511ga.org.The DOT encourages winter drivers to:
- Postpone travel until daylight hours when road conditions such as black ice are more visible.
- Be aware of Georgia DOT crews working.
- Follow at least 100 feet behind DOT vehicles.
- SLOW DOWN at least half your normal speed and use a low gear as you drive.
- Treat a non-working traffic signal as a four-way stop.
- Watch for fallen trees or power lines.