Winter weather can bring plenty of hazardous conditions to the road system. Rain, snow and ice all contribute to hazardous driving conditions. During these conditions our crews are in full swing keeping the roads as safe as possible. And while we work long hours and weekends as needed, there are some things we can’t control which may be hazardous. While we will be ready, we are asking you to do the same and following are a few tips on how to prepare for winter driving.
First, know your ability. We want to encourage winter drivers to not exceed their ability level. Some drivers are quite comfortable on a snow-packed road while others feel wholly unprepared. Sometimes driving conditions warrant staying home, or delaying a trip until later in the day when the weather warms a bit. We do understand the expectation to be able to drive anywhere at any time in any vehicle by any driver. Sadly, the weather conditions sometimes make this out to be an unrealistic expectation and pushing the limits of driving can quickly result in accidents. If you can delay your travel to a safer time it may be worth it.
Second, be prepared. What ‘prepared’ means can vary from person to person so we will just cover the basics here and then refer you to a great website full of lots of great information hosted by our partner, the Oregon Department of Transportation. The basics include:
Is your vehicle prepared? Tires, chains, washer fluid, battery, defroster, etc.
Are you prepared as the driver? Know your route, check the weather, well-rested, etc.
Do you have the things you may need? Water, snacks, blanket, coat, gloves, umbrella, flashlight, charged cell phone, etc.
Last, know what to expect from us. To begin with, something needs to be said about what we call ‘level of service’. As you can guess, Interstate 5 running through our valley handles a lot of traffic and our partners at ODOT do a tremendous job keeping the I5 corridor in the best shape possible, even in the worst of winter storms. And while I5 warrants this level of service, other roadways warrant a reduced level of service. This is sometimes hard to understand, yet the reality is there is not enough resources to park a snow plow, sander and operator at the top and bottom of each hill in Jackson County. Therefore, you will likely notice a different level of service on various roads in the county. In general, the more traffic using the road the higher the level of service which translates to more frequent visits by maintenance crews. So what about 24-hour service? The Road Department’s primary goal is to get people safely to work and get them home. So our crews will usually start very early in the morning and will work into the evening to get drivers home safely. While we sometimes have a small night crew in place to do some spot sanding, we plan our work to occur primarily during daylight hours.
ODOT’s popular Tripcheck site is a great resource too. Please contact us if you have any questions.