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For Immediate Release: January 13, 2012

Thruway Authority: Winter Weather is Here
Practice These Driving Tips

It took awhile but winter finally arrived, so the New York State Thruway Authority reminds motorists to prepare their vehicles for the harsh winter driving conditions.
Take specific measures to deal with unexpected emergencies.

“Whether you’re driving a car, van or truck, drivers depend on the Thruway staff to clear the roads of snow, ice, and debris, making the drive safe and smooth in winter weather,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. “Safety has been and will always be our number one priority, and the Thruway Authority’s winter maintenance crews are dedicated to taking proper care of road conditions 24 hours a day by plowing snow and de-icing the pavement so motorists can safely reach their destinations.”

At this time of year, sun glare can be problematic during sunrise and sunset which coincide with morning and evening rush hours. The intense glare from the sun on the horizon can blind a driver, causing an unexpected traffic slowdown. Drivers may prepare for the glare by keeping a set of sunglasses handy, removing clutter from their sun visors and keeping the inside of their vehicle’s windshield clean.

The Thruway Authority recommends these following winter driving tips:

  • Don’t follow too closely: keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead, and be extra cautious during inclement weather: maintain extra space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Don’t speed: drive within the speed limit. Take your time and obey posted speed limits.
  • Should the weather get increasingly bad while you’re driving, pull to the side of the road on level ground and away from other traffic if necessary; use emergency flashers.
  • If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and conserve gasoline.
  • Always wear your seat belt and require your passengers do the same: seat belts save lives.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operation condition: adhere to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.
  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Don’t drive drunk: more than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the U.S. involve drivers impaired by alcohol.
  • Practice defensive driving, not aggressive driving.
  • When possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Make sure your brakes work; if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system, don’t pump them, brake with firm pressure.
  • Avoid distractions including cell phones, applying makeup, and fiddling with electronic devices.
  • Always watch out for the other driver.
  • Should the weather get increasingly bad while you’re driving, pull to the side of the road on level ground and away from other traffic if necessary; use emergency flashers.
  • Always carry an emergency supply kit which includes a car care kit, boots, a shovel, blanket, snacks, water, cell phone and cell phone charger, water and any needed medication.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Plan your trips carefully, listen to the local weather reports and the National Weather Service for weather conditions predicted along your travel route.

Motorists may find the latest forecasts through the National Weather Service for regions along the Thruway by visiting www.thruway.gov/weather/ .

  • If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it’s safe to pass. Remember, a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass, or until the plow pulls off the road.

In case of emergency, breakdown or minor accident, motorists are reminded not to stop within travel lanes. If the vehicle can be driven, motorists should travel to the nearest exit or safe location. If the vehicle is inoperable, motorists should activate four-way flashers, and stay inside the vehicle until authorized personnel arrive to provide assistance. Should an emergency occur, motorists are advised to call 911 or the Thruway Statewide Operations Center at 1-800-842-2233. Travelers should never walk along the roadway.

At times of inclement weather, motorists will be advised through electronic Variable Message Signs along the roadway, TRANSalerts, and the Thruway Highway Advisory Radio. The HAR stations broadcast traffic advisories, road conditions, weather reports and safety tips to travelers 24 hours a day.

Motorists may listen to traffic information by tuning their vehicle radios to the following HAR frequencies: New York City and Tappan Zee Bridge Corridor – 530 AM; Utica area – 540 AM; Newburgh, Kingston, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo areas – 1610 AM; Little Falls/Herkimer, Syracuse, Lafayette (I-81), Waterloo/Geneva – 1620 AM; Ripley – 98.7 FM.

Up-to-date information on road conditions is also available by calling toll-free 1-800-THRUWAY (1-800-847-8929) or by visiting www.thruway.ny.gov . For statewide traffic information, go to www.511ny.org .

TRANSalerts are free notices sent to subscribers automatically via E-mail or text messaging, informing them of major unscheduled incidents that may affect their travel on the Thruway. Motorists may subscribe to the TRANSalert service via the Thruway Authority’s website at www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/.

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