SPRINGFIELD – With winter bearing down and snow starting to appear in the forecast, the Illinois Department of Transportation is debuting an improved winter road conditions map on its popular Getting Around Illinois website.
“Illinois winters are notorious for changing quickly and drastically, sometimes over just a few miles. These improvements to Getting Around Illinois will give travelers information that’s more reliable and more local,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “I urge you to bookmark and regularly check this valuable resource to help you stay safe and prepared throughout the winter.”
Instead of continuing to display conditions by county, the revamped map will show how weather events are impacting roads under the jurisdictions of the more than 120 snow-and-ice team sections that work out of IDOT facilities throughout the state. Additionally, conditions on interstates and U.S. routes, which carry the most traffic in Illinois, will be given priority reporting status and appear more boldly on the map.
A short video on how to utilize the map and review conditions can be viewed here.
GettingAroundIllinois.com is available on your computer and optimized for smartphones, with the winter road conditions feature alone averaging more than 2.5 million pageviews each year. Conditions are recorded by plow drivers out in the field and relayed through a cloud-based system. The website includes the ability to identify and zoom in to a location, travel route or destination as well as look up information on current construction projects and others identified for improvement in IDOT’s multiyear program.
IDOT, Illinois State Police and Illinois Tollway are reminding the driving public that now is the ideal time for “Winter Weather – Get it Together.”
“At IDOT, we spend the entire year getting ready for snow-and-ice season. Our top priority is making sure our roads are safe for the motoring public, but we do ask the motoring public to do its part as well and get prepared,” Osman. “Make sure your vehicle is in a safe, operating condition. Winter weather can change quickly so be prepared to reduce speeds and increase driving distances at all times. And please share the roads with our snow-and-ice teams — don’t crowd the plow.”
Throughout the coming months of cold weather and adverse conditions, motorists should practice basic winter driving skills and build extra time into their schedules. As part of the “Winter Weather — Get it Together” campaign, travelers are encouraged to follow these simple guidelines:
- Wear a seat belt. It’s the law in Illinois. And it’s your best defense in a crash.
- Drop it and drive. Put down the mobile devices — it, too, is the law.
- Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to drive, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route. Familiarize yourself with public transportation options.
- Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking are required throughout the winter.
- Don’t crowd the plow. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see
them, but they may not see you. Any plow that’s hit is one less resource available to clear the roads.
- Watch out for black ice. A road may appear clear but can be treacherous.
- Be especially careful when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas. All are prone to icing.
- Give them distance. Obey the Move Over Law by slowing down and changing lanes when approaching any stopped vehicle with flashing lights.
“Winter weather causes additional dangers to the men and women of the Illinois State Police on patrol to protect and serve all motorists,” said ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “In snowy and icy conditions, please refrain from driving unless it is essential. If you must get on the road, remember to adjust your driving to the weather and road conditions. Winter road conditions are unpredictable and a crash could happen at any moment. The fewer drivers on the road, the fewer crashes and the safer everyone will be.
“If you approach an emergency vehicle with its lights activated or a disabled vehicle with flashing lights, please slow down and move over. Our goal is to ensure everyone makes it home safely.”
For the upcoming winter, IDOT will have almost 1,800 trucks available for deployment to plow nearly 16,000 miles of roads statewide, the equivalent of driving from New York to Los Angeles and back almost three times. Last year, IDOT spread more than 522,000 tons of salt statewide. This winter, salt domes throughout the state are close to capacity, with more than 445,000 tons on hand, almost twice the weight of the Willis Tower.
The Illinois Tollway mobilizes a fleet of 196 snowplows during winter storms and this year has stockpiled 88,000 tons of salt to keep its 294-mile system of five roadways clear and safe for its 1.6 million daily drivers. Information on tollway road conditions is available at www.illinoistollway.com.