INDOT and local police prepare for looming snow
With Michiana getting set for significant snowfall this week, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and local police departments wanted to give out some safety tips ahead of that snow. INDOT said avoid snowplows as much as possible. The Elkhart Police Department said keep a supply of emergency gear in your car at all times. Both said slow down on the snowy roads.
"The biggest thing overall is just slow down," Elkhart Police Lieutenant Travis Snider said. "Take it easy.”
Snider said the Elkhart Police Department most often has responded to cars sliding off the road during snowstorms as a result of drivers driving too fast in the inclement weather. He said any amount of snow on the roads would call for lower speeds.
“We haven't had much snow this year," Snider said." We aren't supposed to get a whole whole lot, but any amount of snow on the roadways is just about as bad as any other amount of snow on the roadways."
Snider also said it's important to keep emergency supplies in your car in case you break down or spin off the road. He suggested extra gloves, hats and jackets or a heavy blanket if necessary, jumper cables, a small shovel and a snowbrush or scraper. With the popular safety tip being to slow down, Snider said there is not a magic number to target for how far below the speed limit you should go.
"The other day, I'm driving down County Road 17," Snider said. "17 was fine. It looked like a summer afternoon. It was dry and clear. No issues. When I turned down the side road, it looked like it had never been plowed. So, obviously, I can't say go five miles under when you're doing 50 on 17, and you can do 50 on that side road? That doesn't work."
INDOT said it does not have a priority list of what roads it hits first or more often. Its Northwest District Director of Public Relations Cassandra Bajek said they focus on traffic patterns.
“So, something like the bypass is going to get plowed every two hours," Bajek said. "Something like State Road 23 south of South Bend where it's more rural might get plowed every three hours instead. So, it's going to be those more heavily trafficked areas that are going to have a plow going through there more often."
Bajek said there are important safety measures to follow if you see a snowplow on the road.
"A snowplow actually has very large blind spots on both the sides and behind the snowplow," Bajek said. "So, really, you don't want to drive next to or behind a snowplow ever. You want to stay as far away as you can, really, give as much following distance as possible, not try to pass them in areas that wouldn't be safe to pass because they can't see you if you're too close to them, and that can be really dangerous."
INDOT and police recommendations boiled down to a simple concept: slow down on the roads and always be prepared.