Given the last couple of ice events in the recent past and the potential for freezing rain on its way, we thought we would share how we handle these conditions. Understanding our objectives and operations along with your cooperation and patience will aid in safe travels.
Freezing rain and icing on the roads creates some of the most dangerous conditions we encounter through the winter. The Highway recognizes the hazards these type of road conditions create for the traveling public and for first responders trying to get to calls. We address every event proactively to mitigate the hazards created by these ice events. In certain situations, we even pre-salt ahead of time. Rain or freezing rain on top of a frost layer poses the biggest challenge for all of us. The downshift in a transmission or softest touch on the brakes can cause a slide or spin, even for our trucks weighing in at approximately 70,000 pounds. We reduce our operating speed from approximately 25 mph down to between 5 mph and 10 mph while engaged in an ice detail.
Our approach may vary depending on conditions, especially when treating hills and curves. With sanders discharging salt at the rear of the trucks, you may witness us backing down hills such as Glen Edith, Vosburg, Baker or Lake Road between Pellett Road and Bay Road. This is for the safety of our own employees to reduce the risk of a runaway truck. This places the salt ahead of our vehicle. While this happens on a limited basis, it is not uncommon when certain conditions exist in order for us to maintain traction.
The Town of Webster trucks are all equipped with signs on the back that specifies to Stay Back 100’ and that we back up often. These distances should be doubled or tripled when ice conditions are current.Your best action is to not go out in this weather but if you have to or you are caught in these conditions, here are a few tips to guide you for a safe commute:
• Reduce your speed.
• Always wear your seat belt.
• Pay attention to the weather so you are prepared and make time for a longer commute.
• Ease on your brakes; don’t slam them. Do the majority of your stopping way before you have to.
• Avoid sudden movements such as jerking the wheel or slamming on the brakes or accelerator. Any hard shifts or movements can cause you to lose control.
• Don’t assume someone is going to or can stop as you approach intersections. When in doubt, wait it out.
• Give salt trucks plenty of room: front, back, and on the sides.
Below is a video from a plow truck in Canada that clearly shows the dangers ice brings with it. Thankfully no one was hurt but I can’t help but think what could have happened if someone was following that truck up the hill or a car was passing along the road at the bottom as it rolled over. This does happen! Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E78Rlrb92s
Let’s work together on providing the safest of travels in the worst of conditions. Thank you, Joe Herbst Superintendent of Highways