Iowa DOT News

Iowa DOT warns drivers to use caution in winter weather


AMES, Iowa – The National Weather Service is predicting snow for the majority of the state, with up to six inches expected in the central part of the state. While the snow is forecast to end early Thursday, winds are expected to be strong with temperatures dipping to dangerous levels in the next few days, making blowing and drifting snow a danger in many parts of the state.

With this winter weather event, Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) officials urge drivers to evaluate the necessity of each trip and travel at another time, if possible. To assist you, the Iowa DOT has a Web site, dotweatherview.com dedicated to detailed weather information. Also, 511ia.org is a site to visit for specific road condition information. If you must travel during this winter weather event, please consider the following recommendations.

Fill your gas tank. Before traveling in winter weather, always keep your gas tank nearly full and make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.

Use your vehicle's safety equipment . Your headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen. Always wear your seatbelt and demand that all passengers also buckle up.

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 speed and increase the danger of a crash.

Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This kit should contain items to help sustain life should your vehicle become stranded. These items can include: a cell phone, booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes for all vehicle occupants, non-perishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel.

Use caution when approaching or following a snowplow. Snowplows generally operate at much slower speeds than other traffic. In clearing the roads, the plows often move sideways when clearing drifts and can generate a "snow cloud," which may impair the vision of drivers in vehicles near the snowplow. This cloud can be much larger when winds are also blowing snow. Remain a safe distance behind the snowplow, never drive alongside a plow and pass only when the visibility has cleared. Allow plenty of space as you pass because the wing of the snowplow extends out to the side. Do not cut back into the lane of traffic too closely in front of a snowplow, because the plow blade also extends in front of the vehicle.

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