Winter is upon us and that means dropping temperatures, snow and ice. Each year, the Ohio Department of Transportation and local authorities work endlessly to make sure that our roads are clear and safe through these rough winter conditions.
ODOT spends around $50 million a year to keep 1,700 plows on the road laying 650,000 tons of salt from 200 ODOT offices around the state. This, however, is a small investment for the safety of Ohio’s travelers and the necessity to keep Ohio moving. A few years ago, the American Highway Users Alliance released a report showing that if Ohio’s roads were to shut down for just one day, Ohio workers would lose over $200 million in wages, and the state and federal governments would lose over $26 million in tax revenue.
As Ohio’s economy continues to grow, the role that ODOT and local authorities play in keeping us on the move becomes even more important. Having clear roads not only prevents accidents and keeps us going on our daily routines, but it allows Ohio’s economy to continue to grow through the winter months.
While ODOT and local governments play a huge role in keeping our roads safe, there are some common-sense practices that we can incorporate in our routines to stay safe on the roads. First and foremost, leave early and take it slow. Even with salt, roads can be icy and wet, leading to reduced traction and loss of control. In winter conditions, it can take three to 10 times farther to stop, so allow for extra stopping distance behind other vehicles and at intersections. Also, always slow down gradually when stopping or making a turn, and never slam on your brakes.
Finally, as plows are out on the road removing snow and spreading salt to keep us safe, make sure you give them extra room. Plows often travel below the posted speed limit and drivers have limited visibility. The plows are wide and can often cross the center line or shoulder, so try to refrain from passing. If you must pass, use extra caution as the trucks can create snow clouds that limit your visibility.
So as winter sets in, remember to take it slow, use extra caution, and stay safe on the roads!
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The writer represents the 84th District in the Ohio House of Representatives.