IDOT and Illinois State Police battle snow storm; Motorists urged to drive with extreme caution

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are responding in full force to the latest round of severe winter weather. Heavy snow blanketed Illinois - including more than five inches of snow falling in Chicago and more than 12 inches in Springfield – making for treacherous driving conditions. Governor Blagojevich, IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees and ISP Director Larry Trent urge drivers to delay travel plans when possible but if they must drive to use extreme caution and allow for plenty of extra time.

“We’re deploying our resources aggressively statewide to keep people safe. IDOT deployed 1,700 plow trucks over night to try to ease the morning commute and those trucks will keep at it until our highways are clear of ice and snow,” said Governor Blagojevich.

“IDOT is urging drivers to delay travel plans if possible until our plow trucks have had a chance to get the roads cleared,” said Sees. “And if motorists must drive, they should make sure their gas tanks are full, their cars and tires are in good condition and they allow plenty of extra travel time. And of course, please give plenty of room to our plow drivers so they can do their jobs. ”

"The Illinois State Police have responded to numerous calls for service ranging from vehicles in the ditches to multiple vehicle crashes with injuries," said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. "Motorists are urged to use extreme caution when driving, slow down, and allow plenty of time to make it safely to their destination. Motorists must yield to moving emergency vehicles, including highway maintenance vehicles, displaying oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights. Additionally, Scott’s Law requires a driver to change lanes, if safe to do so, or reduce speed and proceed with caution when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights."

There were three reported fatalities in two crashes in LaSalle County since last night, and both were considered weather-related. The first was on County Highway 3 at 8 p.m. The second crash was a double-fatality on westbound I-80 involving a pick-up truck and cement truck at about 2 a.m. In addition, there were numerous reports of spin outs and fender-benders across the state. Officials said these are mainly caused by motorists driving too fast for the conditions.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is in frequent contact with local emergency management officials throughout the state to determine if any state assistance is needed to help communities deal with storm-related issues. While no state assistance has been requested at this time, IEMA continues to stand ready to act quickly if help is needed.

Following are some safety tips that all drivers should take in mind before venturing out on the roads:
  • Plan ahead and make sure before you head out: is your trip necessary?
  • Don’t crowd the plow – remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
  • Watch out for black ice – roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, and shady areas – all are prone to black.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
  • Dress warmly for the weather—dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
  • Do not travel unless absolutely necessary—if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and plan ahead with safety in mind.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your travel route.
  • Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Always carry a cell phone.
Always wear a safety belt.