As winter weather approaches the state, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) along with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) encourages drivers to be prepared for winter driving conditions.
“While our NDOT crews are prepared to clear the roads, it is important for motorists to stay informed on the latest weather forecast and to plan ahead if travel is required by dialing 511 and checking other online resources, including Plow Tracker,” said NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis.
NDOT works closely with its partners at the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) to be well prepared for winter weather before it approaches.
“The first major bout with winter weather often has the potential to catch travelers off-guard,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “We encourage all drivers to plan ahead for adverse driving conditions in the affected areas and check roads conditions with 511 before beginning your travel.”
Troopers will be on the road throughout the state and ready to help motorists who need assistance. Anyone in need of help on Nebraska roadways can call *55 or 800-525-5555 to reach the NSP Highway Helpline, available 24 hours a day.
While NDOT strives to be ready for all winter storms, some are so severe, no amount of preparation can forestall hazardous conditions that come with extremely low temperatures, low visibility, heavy snowfall or dangerous ice.
When winter weather conditions are hazardous, NDOT and NSP may advise motorists to restrict their travel or even advise them not to travel at all. Such advisories are not issued without considerable thought and weighing the effects.
Ultimately, the reduction of travelers on the roadway during a winter event improves safety for all those who share the roadway while also assisting NDOT with timely snow and ice removal.
As winter storms approach, travelers are urged to be alert, be aware and check the most up-to-date travel conditions available through 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available at all times via Nebraska 511’s smartphone app, online at www.511.nebraska.gov or by dialing 511 on your mobile device within the state, or if dialing from a landline or outside Nebraska at 1-‑800-906-9069.
Travelers are also encouraged to utilize NDOT’s Plow Tracker at https://plows.nebraska.gov/index.html where the public will be able to observe road conditions in real time from the cabs of NDOT snowplows. Please note that weather conditions are often worse than they appear on camera.
After assessing the conditions, should individuals determine travel is still necessary, NDOT reminds motorists to be prepared with warm clothing, water and food. If traveling a significant distance, a winter weather survival kit stocked with additional items is recommended. Additionally, travelers are advised to not drive faster than conditions allow. Surfaces will be slick under the snow and visibility may be poor. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
With snowplows out on the roads, travelers also are urged to be cautious and courteous to those operating them, making sure to:
- Slow down as you approach plows. They travel slowly, usually 25 to 30 mph or less.
- Stay well behind plows to give you and them plenty of room. When traveling outside of a business or residential district, it is unlawful to follow a highway maintenance vehicle (snowplow, truck or grader) more closely than 100 feet when it is plowing snow, spreading salt or sand, or displaying a flashing amber or blue light.
- Never pass a plow on the right – snowplows are equipped with “wing plows” which extend beyond the truck itself.
- Know where plows are and actions they may be taking while they plow snow.
Further, motorists are reminded to make sure everyone in their vehicle wears a seat belt and children are in a car safety seat. They also should not use cruise control in wet or snowy weather, and they should keep a full gas tank.
For safe-driving tips and winter weather information, visit NDOT’s website, http://dot.nebraska.gov/safety/driving/winter/