ODOT: Mild winter leaves motorists out of practice

COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) – As Ohioans get ready to drive in the first possible winter storm this season, the Ohio Department of Transportation warns motorists in "Ice and Snow, Take It Slow," especially on interstates and state-maintained highways, where speeds are faster and traffic volumes are higher.

Research shows by the time the first winter storm hits, most motorists have forgotten their winter driving skills.

"Because of last year's mild winter, many of Ohio's motorists haven't driven in significant ice and snow in about 20 months," said ODOT director Jerry Wray.

ODOT will make history this winter by being the first state in the nation to use green-colored strobe lights on its snowplow trucks. Studies show green lights are more easily detected by the human eye than other colors. The new green lights, along with new white lights, will be added to the existing amber lights, creating a color combination unique to ODOT.

Drivers can also stay safe by following these tips:

  • Plan Ahead: Before leaving home, find out driving conditions by going to ODOT's website. Safe drivers know the weather and their limits. Also, follow ODOT on Facebook and Twitter.
  • See and be Seen: Remove any snow on your vehicle's windows, lights and signals.
  • Check the Clock: Leave plenty of time to reach your destination safely. It's not worth putting yourself - and others - in a dangerous situation just to be on time.
  • Turn on your Lights: If you need to turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights. It's the law.

During last year's winter season, there were 16,167 winter-related crashes on Ohio's roadways. Ice- and snow-related fatalities on ODOT-maintained roads decreased by nearly 20 percent, from 21 to 17.

Although crashes on ODOT-maintained roads make up only 33 percent of all snow and ice crashes, in the 2011-2012 winter season, nearly 57 percent of all winter driving-related fatalities occurred on interstates, U.S. routes and state routes.

Copyright 2012 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.