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RIDOT urges caution as winter weather approaches

With forecasts calling for winter weather this weekend, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is reminding drivers to allow extra time for travel over the next several days.

Periods of rain and snow are expected Friday and Sunday nights with the latter potentially affecting the Monday morning commute. RIDOT will be out ahead of and during the storms to clear and treat the roadways. Motorists should allow plenty of space for plows and be prepared for traffic delays, particularly during peak travel hours.

"As the winter season gets underway, it's a good reminder to all of us to make safety the first priority on the roadway," said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. "Wearing a seat belt, putting phones away while driving, slowing down, and sharing the road with other motorists and plows are all vitally important habits to get into especially when traveling in inclement weather."

The road behind the plow is always the safest place to drive in a storm, and drivers should stay at least five car lengths behind to give them ample room to operate. The size and weight of these vehicles can make it difficult to maneuver or stop quickly.

Drivers should also take this opportunity to get their vehicles ready for inclement weather. Check your tires, anti-freeze, battery, brakes, heater, exhaust system and lights. If you have to travel in a storm, notify others of your travel plans before you leave and carry a winter survival kit with flashlights, blankets, first aid supplies and snacks in case you become stranded. More winter driving tips can be found on RIDOT's website at www.dot.ri.gov.

The Department is deploying new technology this year that will help to both "green" its winter operations as well as save money. RIDOT plows are now equipped with GPS devices and more precise salt metering systems to better control and track the application of salt - the most costly component of winter storm operations. Lower salt usage also means a reduction in the amount of salt that flows into nearby waterways.

We also began using a salt brine solution in early 2012 to pre-treat some of the state's high-volume roadways. The solution keeps the snow from becoming compacted and freezing to the surface. This helps cleanup efforts and further reduces the amount of salt needed during winter storms.

RIDOT also participates in the Clear Roads Winter Maintenance Research project, comprised of 26 snow-belt states that work collaboratively to develop and evaluate the newest winter operations technologies. Clear Roads also focuses on raising awareness for winter driving safety, promoting the initiative that if you see Ice and Snow, Take It Slow.

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Contact: Rose Amoros 401-222-1362 x4450

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Transportation

Online: http://www.dot.ri.gov

Release date: 12-06-2013

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