Driving with ice, snow, or both on the ground in Nebraska is almost inevitable. The Weather Channel offers these tips to help keep you safe while out on the roads:
- Stay on main roads and highways, and stick to the flattest roads you can. Avoid hills and roads with sloping surfaces wherever possible.
- Drive only during daylight hours and avoid driving alone if you can.
- Bring blankets with you to keep warm in case you become stranded. Also bring bottled water or warm beverages, to avoid becoming dehydrated.
- Let family members know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return.
- If a snowstorm or blizzard forces you to stop, pull off the highway and turn on your hazard lights. If you have a distress flag or sticker, hang it from your radio antenna or apply it to your window. Remain in your car, where rescuers are most likely to find you.
- If you’re stranded for an extended period of time, run your engine for about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. Open a window slightly for ventilation while the car is running, to prevent any carbon monoxide buildup. Remove any snow that builds up on your car’s exhaust pipe.
- If you have to spend the night in your car, turn on the interior overhead light so rescuers or work crews can see you.
Traveling in a snowstorm is not advised and Custer County Sheriff Dan Osmond told KCNI/KBBN when a road is closed DO NOT attempt to travel on it.
“When those roads are closed that means there is no help from us [Sheriff’s Office]. It is closed for a reason, because we can’t get down it. We’re not going to go out there and try and get to someone when we know we can’t,” said Osmond.
If you do become stranded Sheriff Osmond says do not leave your vehicle and attempt to walk. Call emergency services and be patient.
Travelers can take a proactive approach regarding road conditions by viewing the upgraded Nebraska 511 Advanced Traveler System. In addition to viewing live cameras, road reports, and closure information, the system now includes live weather radar that will allow travelers to monitor storms as they move through Nebraska. Know Before You Go – Check 511.nebraska.gov or the Nebraska 511 app.
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.
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.
For safe-driving tips and winter weather information, visit NDOT’s website,