The Illinois Department of Transportation launched its "Ice and Snow — Take it Slow" campaign Friday to encourage motorists to prepare for dangerous winter driving conditions.
In partnership with Illinois State Police, IDOT officials stressed safety when driving in snow and ice.
Illinois State Trooper Master Sgt. Tom Burek said it's important that people who have to drive in hazardous weather tell loved ones where they are heading. They also should carry a cell phone and make sure it's charged. He stressed not texting while driving, adding it's illegal in Illinois.
Speed is the No. 1 cause of winter crashes, Master Sgt. Burek said.
"It's crucial to adjust your speed for the driving conditions, and increase the distance between you and the car ahead of you," he said. "Don't think that because you get in a dry patch, you can increase your speed."
Illinois has more than 3,680 employees and 1,730 pieces of equipment ready for winter weather. Officials said 84,000 tons of salt are on hand for use in northern Illinois.
"The state is fully stocked with salt this year, but don't expect winter to be as nice as last year," Trisha Thompson, IDOT operations field engineer, said. "Make sure you check winter road conditions before you head out."
For Illinois road conditions, call 1 (800) TOLL-FYI (865-5394)or visit gettingaroundillinois.com and select the winter road conditions icon.For Iowa conditions, call 511 or 1 (800) 288-1047, or visit 511ia.org.
Winter driving refresher
Motorists should refresh their winter driving know-how as the season approaches. Remember:
— Allow plenty of space when driving near a snow plow. Snow plow operators' field of vision is restricted.
— Watch out for black ice, a thin layer of ice on a road surface that is nearly impossible to see. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps and bridges; all are prone to black ice.
— Keep gas tanks at least two-thirds full to prevent fuel lines from freezing.
— Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary.
— Keep an emergency car care kit with jumper cables, an ice scraper, flares or reflectors, non-perishable food, blankets and a first aid kit.
— Carry a cell phone. For roadway assistance, dial *999 in Illinois or 511 in Iowa.
Today is Tuesday, May 21, the 141st day of 2013. There are 224 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: On Monday the 11th inst. on Center Ridge in Mercer County,some citizens got out their cannon to celebrate the taking of Richmond. The gun wasoverloaded and burst. No one was injured, but one 30-pound piece went though thesecond story of a house. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The old folks concert at the Harper Theater last night to benefit St.Luke's Cottage Hospital, attracted a large audience. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Unless depredation by vandals in Rock Island parks is halted,special policemen will be assigned to night duty to protect the flowers and other property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Station WHBF has received a special citation from Washington forits participation in Air Mail Week, which was observed this week throughout the nation. 1963 -- 50 years ago: A 10-year high in employment in the Quad-City area was reachedat the end of the last quarter, according to an industrial employment barometer releasedtoday. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Pee Wee teams will be able to play baseball and softball as usualon Diamond Three at Dorrance Park this summer, but after that, the ball field is doomed.County crews have put the diamond back in shape after heavy trucks marred the playingfield earlier this spring. Illinois Department of Transportation crews drove onto it to makeborings for the relocation of the junction of Illinois 84 and the Port Byron-Hillsdale road.