Officials Urge Drivers To Prepare For Winter Driving

Alpha Media/Ed Hammond

While there is no snow on area roadways now, officials charged with removing the precipation from those roads and highways urge drivers to be ready.

City of Peoria and Peoria County road crews, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation met with area reporters Thursday to get their messages to motorists.

State Police Trooper Ross Green says it does not take much precipitation to make the roads dangerous.

“Especially bridge decks,” Green said. “(With) just a dusting of snow and very cold temperatures it becomes very slick on those elevated surfaces.”

Green says make sure you have items in your vehicle to keep you safe should you become stranded.

“Make sure you have that cell phone charger in the vehicle so you can call for help (and some) extra warm clothes,” Green said. “If you’re stranded, if your vehicle breaks down, it doesn’t take long for a warm vehicle to become very cold.”

Green says a general rule of thumb during winter weather driving is, be patient.

“Just slow down your speed and really increase that following distance. That will definitely help you get to your destination safely,” Green said.

Patience is also the key when sharing the road with snow plows.

“It’s kind of hard to do our job when (drivers) are out on the road in our way trying (as we) clear the road for them to have a good path to get where they’re going,” said Chuck Edmonds, plow driver for IDOT in Morton.

“We’ll do it as quickly and fast as we can, as safe as we can and try to make it safe for the public. That’s our main objective,” Edmonds said.

City of Peoria Public Works Director of Operations, Sie Maroon, says the weather, the cleared snow and the equipment mounted on snow plows does somewhat affect the visibility of the drivers toward vehicles around them.

“There are some definite blind spots and it’s mostly when somebody gets real close to the rear end of the truck,” Maroon said. “We may be putting salt down and we obviously want the salt to hit the pavement and not the car.”

“There are blind spots even on the sides, as well. It’s very important (drivers) give us that space. Mirrors and equipment are getting better and better all the time. But when you get right up on somebody they can’t see you if you’re that close,” Maroon said.

Maroon is stopping short of saying the City of Peoria has a “surplus” amount on salt on hand to battle the winter weather, but, “We’re starting with about 11,000 tons, which is the best start we’ve had in a long, long time.”

Maroon says new this year is that City road crews will be tasked with clearing residential streets of snow in addition to the marked snow routes. The City, in the past, had contracted out the work of clearing residential streets.

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