When the snowflakes begin to fly, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews will be ready. However, ODOT officials say maintaining safe roads will largely depend on the motorists using them.
“ODOT continues to invest significant time, money and resources to clear Ohio’s roadways, but how motorists drive during snow and ice conditions is just as critical in preventing accidents and keeping people safe,” said ODOT Director Gordon Proctor.
Last winter, there were a total of 12,988 accidents attributed to snow and ice on ODOT maintained roads and almost 30,500 snow and ice related accidents on all Ohio roads. The most common causes of these crashes were failure to control, excessive speed and following other vehicles too closely.
Although statewide accidents during the 2004 snow and ice season were down from 14,990 in 2003, this is still a large increase from the 9,285 accidents in 2002. Overall, snow and ice related accidents have been increasing steadily. The spike in 2003 can be attributed to the unusually high number of snow and ice events around the state. The most common causes of snow and ice related accidents continue to be driver error, which means many of the accidents are preventable.
“Motorists can commit to do their part by driving a safe speed for conditions, avoid following too closely and by planning ahead for unfavorable conditions. During winter weather, increased attention to safe driving techniques and keeping equipment, such as tires, in good working order is critical,” said Lt. Rick Zwayer, spokesperson for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Last winter, the department spent $53.9 million statewide clearing state-maintained highways and used almost 775,000 tons of salt. ODOT typically spends about $56 million annually and uses about 650,000 tons of salt.
“Our goal is to continually improve the safety of our roads,” Proctor said. “ODOT will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, but motorists can make a substantial contribution by exercising caution when driving during the winter months.”
Motorists can help reduce crashes during inclement weather by:
- Driving with their headlights on
- Allowing for extra stopping distance
- Not driving during heavy snow or ice or unless absolutely necessary
- Not following plows too closely or passing plows
- Check ODOT’s Web site at www.buckeyetraffic.org for road conditions before leaving.
“Just one accident causes congestion and backups and prevents our crews from clearing the roadway, compounding the problem,” said Tony Vogel, ODOT’s statewide highway management administrator.
ODOT has more than 1,600 trucks and 3,200 drivers to cover 38,800 lane miles of highway across the state In addition, ODOT’s 231 salt barns are stocked with about 614,000 tons of salt.