AMES, Iowa – Feb. 22, 2013 – 5 a.m. update – As light to moderate snowfall continues to move through a majority of Iowa this morning, the Iowa Department of Transportation is cautioning commuters to use common sense and their best driving skills to keep Iowa highways safe. Iowa highways are currently being reported as partially to completely covered with snow.
Fill your vehicle’s gas tank. Before traveling in winter weather, always keep your vehicle’s gas tank nearly full and make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
Use your vehicle's safety equipment. Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen. Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seat belts or are in a child safety seat.
Never use cruise control during winter weather. Your vehicle's cruise control sensors may not work properly if the tires are traveling on packed snow or ice. This can cause your vehicle to increase its speed, placing you at greater risk of getting involved in a crash.
Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This kit should contain items to help sustain your life and the lives of your passengers should your vehicle become stranded. These items can include: booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel. Sufficient supplies should be in the kit for all persons traveling in the vehicle. Carrying a mobile phone in your vehicle is also advised for use during an emergency.
Use caution when approaching or following a snowplow. Snowplows generally operate at much slower speeds than other traffic. Snowplows can be forced sideways when clearing hard-packed drifts and generate a "snow cloud" that may impair the vision of drivers in nearby vehicles. Remain a safe distance behind the snowplow, pass only when clear; and never continue to drive alongside a plow. Allow plenty of space when passing the snowplow because the wing of the plow blade extends out to the side of the truck. Do not cut back into the lane of traffic too closely in front of a snowplow truck because the blade also extends in front of the truck. Remember the slogans, “Ice and Snow …Take it Slow” and “Don’t crowd the plow.”
Check Iowa road conditions before traveling today by visiting http://www.511ia.org, calling 511 in Iowa or 800-288-1047 nationwide; the website also offers details on how to get traffic information via Twitter, Facebook or your mobile device.
Attention social media users: Use hashtag #iatraffic in your posts and mention @iowadot or @statewideia511 to be part of Iowa's traffic information network. Do not attempt to use mobile devices while you are driving.
Media access to an Iowa DOT Highway Division spokesperson will be provided until 10 p.m. tonight to discuss this winter event; call 515-233-7960 for assistance.