Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are preparing for a storm forecasted to begin later tonight and continue Tuesday with sleet, freezing rain and light snow possible through Wednesday morning. Motorists should be aware that even a thin layer of ice on the roadway can result in dangerous driving conditions.
“Based on the latest forecast, this next storm will begin later tonight and continue through Tuesday morning’s rush hour with another wave coming Tuesday night into Wednesday,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Forecasters say ice may cause the biggest headache for citizens during this storm. Motorists are urged to be prepared for rush hour driving and throughout the day tomorrow. Slow down, leave plenty of time for your commute and allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Safety needs to be everyone’s number one priority.”
SHA and its contractors will be out in full force in advance of this storm. More than 2,700 personnel and 2,400 pieces of equipment are available statewide along with roughly 270,000 tons of salt.
SHA crews pre-treated interstates with salt brine today as a proactive measure to delay the initial bond of snow and ice from forming. However, even with pre-treatment, roads can still be icy. A small patch of ice can cause drivers to lose control, so motorists are urged to keep speeds well below the posted speed limit.
SHA will deploy six heavy duty tow trucks across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region to assist any disabled tractor trailers along the interstates. If any vehicle encounters trouble on the road due to conditions, make every effort to move from the travel lane and onto the shoulder.
Winter storms have other impacts beyond those associated with travel. For tips on preparing for winter storms, residents may go to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency website at www.mema.state.md.us. Winter preparedness tips are on the home page.
The following are tips for driving safely on icy roads:
1.Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2.Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
3.Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4.Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5.Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6.Don't use cruise control on icy roads.
7.Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8.Don't pass snow plows. Plow drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9.Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles encounter trouble on icy roads.
Stay tuned to radio traffic reports for the most up to date information. Additionally, if traffic signals are out as a result of power outages, use EXTREME caution. Don’t assume the other vehicle will stop. Only pass through an intersection when clear.
Motorists should always have an emergency survival kit to include:
•blanket or sleeping bag
•flashlight with extra batteries
•high calorie non-perishable food
•first aid kit
•a charged cell phone
•kitty litter or other abrasives
Remember to buckle up and “Take It Slow on Ice and Snow.” Before leaving your home or the office, you can see the latest road conditions by logging onto www.roads.maryland.gov. Click the CHART icon for the latest road conditions, live traffic cameras and a variety of information to help with travel decisions and planning. Citizens can also follow SHA on Twitter @MDSHA.