By 1812Blockhouse

Friday and this weekend’s weather is a reminder that as winter tightens its grip over Ohio, navigating its roads becomes increasingly challenging. Snow and ice transform familiar routes into treacherous paths, demanding heightened vigilance and preparedness from every driver. With a focus on safety and practicality, this guide to winter driving from the Ohio Department of Transportation offers crucial advice to ensure a secure and stress-free journey through Ohio’s wintry landscapes.

Even though you may have driven through many Buckeye blizzards, it never hurts to be reminded of what works.

Prepare for Your Journey

Leave Early and Monitor Weather Conditions

Embarking on a winter journey in Ohio requires meticulous planning. Start by checking the weather conditions. Websites like OHGO and ODOT’s mobile application provide real-time traffic information, including traffic speeds, live camera feeds, and current weather conditions. Anticipate delays; even routine trips can take twice as long under snowy conditions. Remember, arriving late is preferable to risking safety.

Plan Your Route Wisely

Choosing the right path is crucial. Opt for well-traveled roads, steering clear of steep upgrades and isolated routes prone to deep snow drifts. An informed choice of roads can be the difference between a smooth journey and an arduous ordeal.

Vehicle Readiness is Key

Before setting off, ensure your vehicle is up to the challenge. Remove snow from windows, lights, and signals to maintain visibility. Inspect your car thoroughly – check tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts, and hoses. Remember, a breakdown is not just an inconvenience in winter, it’s a hazard.

Proceed with Caution

Adapt Your Driving to Winter Conditions

Reducing speed is imperative in snowy conditions. The usual speed limits do not apply when roads are icy. Increase your following distance significantly, as stopping distances can be up to ten times longer on slick roads. Smooth acceleration and gradual braking are essential to maintain control and avoid skidding.

Mastery Over Your Vehicle

In winter, the way you handle your car can make all the difference. Avoid cruise control and abrupt steering maneuvers. If you have anti-lock brakes, know how to use them effectively. Stay alert and responsive to the actions of other drivers.

Respect Snow Plows

Stay Visible and Maintain Distance

Snow plows are vital in keeping the roads clear, but they have limitations. Their field of vision is restricted, so if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you. Maintain a safe distance, preferably two to three car lengths behind.

Understand Plow Behavior

Snow plows operate below regular speed limits. Patience is crucial when following them. Passing is risky and often unadvisable. Be mindful of ‘snow clouds’ created by plows, as they can significantly reduce visibility.

ODOT will be out there doing its thing this season, using between 300,000 and 900,000 tons of salt each winter to remove snow and ice from 43,000 lane miles of highway. ODOT uses salt depending on the severity of the weather, with an average yearly usage of 600,000 tons. ODOT also uses auxiliary drivers, which are full-time ODOT employees who plow snow.

As a reminder, ODOT’s winter weather response is mainly managed at a county level. ODOT does not plow or treat state or federal highways within municipalities, local routes, or private driveways.

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