By Steven Penn
County road crews and public safety officials worked throughout the day Friday to keep the roads safe after central Indiana’s first substantial amount of snow fell.
Hendricks County Highway Department Superintendent Curt Higginbotham said he had his crews out early.
“(Crews have been out) since 3 a.m.,” he said. “We’ve got about 22 pieces of (snow removal equipment) out right now.”
He said his crews were working on plowing, salting, and sanding, but the wind has made it difficult.
“Mainly, it’s the wind that’s the problem,” Higginbotham said. “We plow it back and then a short time later it’s kind of drifted over again. It looks like it’s mainly the north-south roads that are drifting. We’ve had some drifts two or three feet tall.”
Plainfield Police Department Lt. Jared McKee said he was on duty at 6 a.m. and has seen the same problems.
“We’ve had a substantial amount of slide-offs today,” he said. “Most of those are occurring on the north-south roads due to the high winds that are coming out of the west.”
McKee said the roads continued to improve throughout the morning and into the afternoon, but motorists should still be cautious.
“Everybody seems to driving pretty safely today, being that it’s the first snow of the year,” he said. “There's a lot of icy spots that are still out there. With the wind, they’re going to continue to ice over.”
McKee said there are a few things people should keep in mind when driving in winter weather conditions.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t think about is making sure their headlights are on all the time, especially in conditions like this,” he said. “With the automatic headlights, a lot of times they won’t activate, but you need to go ahead and keep them on so people can see you coming, especially with the drifts or the blowing snow that kind of reduces visibility.”
He added that it was important for motorists to adjust how they drive based on the weather conditions and to plan ahead.
“(Give) yourself quite a bit more room than what you usually do between vehicles,” McKee said. “(Make sure to) keep speeds below the posted speed limit. Even though that is the speed limit, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s still going to be safe for the road conditions. Start planning your braking quite a bit before you get to stop lights. A lot of things that we see is that people are driving, they’re doing 45 miles an hour, because that’s the speed limit, then all of a sudden a light changes from green to yellow, they think ‘I need to slam on my brakes,’ and there’s no way they’re going to stop in time. You need to plan ahead in conditions like this.”
Indiana Department of Transportation officials said they expected to maintain more than 150 snow removal vehicles on the roadways in the area, and more than 600 statewide.
For updated weather and road conditions, visit the website at www.TrafficWise.IN.gov or call toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes, and other traffic alerts.