When the white stuff flies, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) has people you can look up to. Literally.
After a successful inaugural season of roadside billboards last year, five new billboards have been unveiled this year, showcasing the agency’s winter-fighting axiom: Your Safe Travel Is Our Business. The billboards spotlight NDOT’s mission to keep Nebraska’s roadways safe for the traveling public and remind the public of its responsibility to take proper winter-driving precautions. The five displays, placed strategically across the state, are a way for NDOT to put the message on the road.
Even with NDOT plows on the job, motorists need to consider their own safety, and encourage others to do so, when traveling during hazardous weather. A great first step is checking 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System, where the most up-to-date travel conditions are available. The system is available at all times via Nebraska 511’s smartphone app, online at 511.nebraska.gov, or by dialing 511 on your mobile device within the state, or dialing 1-800-906-9069 from a landline or outside Nebraska.
Another helpful tool, the Plow Tracker website shows real-time locations of NDOT’s snowplows on the Nebraska state highway system and has camera images from each plow of road conditions. The system is available at www.plows.nebraska.gov. Motorists are reminded that sometimes conditions are worse than what the image portrays, and 511 is the best option for assessing whether conditions are safe for travel.
As travelers take on winter’s fury, they can rest easy knowing there is a dedicated group out clearing the roads. NDOT and the Nebraska State Patrol work diligently to keep roads safe every day, every night and in every storm.
Each of the five new billboards highlight local snowplow drivers, letting motorists know their neighbors are the everyday heroes blazing the way through difficult conditions. Serving their communities and doing their part to shrink the number of winter crashes are what keep them focused.
Snowplow drivers featured on the Lexington-area billboard, located at I-80, six miles east of Lexington, are Shane Houchin, Clyde McClellan, Michael Behrens, and Ernie Rodriguez. They are among NDOT District 6’s “operators trained on the different snow types, as well as the different plowing methods to be able to respond effectively based on the situation,” said District 6 Engineer Gary Thayer.
He added District 6’s vehicle fleet is kept in “ready-to-respond condition, so our operators can perform their mission in public safety.” District 6 includes the entire counties of Arthur, Blaine, Custer, Dawson, Grant, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, and Thomas. The district also includes parts of Cherry, Deuel, and Garden counties.
Tips on Planning Ahead
If you are going to venture out into hazardous conditions, keep these pointers in mind:
- Be prepared with warm clothing, water, and food. If traveling a significant distance, stock a winter weather survival kit with additional items, including medications.
- Always buckle up, do not drive faster than conditions allow and allow for plenty of travel time.
- Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility.
- If you are stranded while traveling, stay in your vehicle until help arrives.
- If your vehicle becomes stuck, run your motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide. Have a red flag or bandana to signal for help.
- The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. You can reach NSP by dialing *55 from any cell phone. Call 911 for any emergency.
For more safe-driving tips and winter weather information, visit NDOT’s website, http://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/winter/.