KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Driving in the wintertime when the area is affected with snow and ice can be a challenge and there are legalities Tennesseans and visitors should know before getting behind the wheel. Winter weather is expected to again affect the East Tennessee region.
In preparation for winter weather events, TDOT dispatches hundreds of salt and brine trucks to disperse thousands of gallons of the chemical mix that help keep roadways free of ice and snow during the winter season.
In Region 1, which covers East Tennessee, TDOT says it allots 212 salt trucks and 99 brine trucks. The salt trucks put out 63,694 tons of salt each season, while the brine trucks treat roadways with 367,800 gallons of brine. These trucks cover 9,182 miles of interstates and state routes.
Who to call when you need help
Did you know you can call a Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper for help? If you need assistance from a Trooper while traveling anywhere in Tennessee, dial *THP (*847) from your cell phone. You will be automatically connected to the closest THP dispatch office and the operator will send a Trooper to your location. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
THP says calling 911 is still an option and can be used in emergency situations; however, dialing *THP may cut down on wait time as the call goes directly to the Troopers where you’re located.
THP also says it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when you’re traveling so you can provide an accurate location that Troopers can easily find. Pay attention to mile markers, road signs and landmarks along the road.
As weather changes, so should driving habits
- Slow down in wet, snowy, or icy conditions; when visibility is poor; or when conditions are changing or unpredictable; no matter what type of vehicle you drive. Beware that ice isn’t always visible on roads.
- Avoid excessive actions while steering, braking or accelerating to lessen the chances of losing control of the vehicle.
- Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and others as it takes more time and distance to stop in adverse weather conditions. Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly, and never slam on the brakes.
- Avoid using cruise control in winter driving conditions. It is not automatically reactive to road conditions.
See a snow plow on the road? Here’s what to do.
- Don’t crowd the plow. Snowplows plow far and wide—sometimes very wide. The front plow extends several feet in front of the truck and may cross the centerline and shoulders during plowing operations. Plows also turn and exit the road frequently.
- Don’t tailgate or stop too close behind snowplows. Snowplows are usually spreading deicing materials from the back of the truck and those materials can damage vehicle paint. Plows also may need to stop or take evasive action to avoid stranded vehicles.
- The road behind a snowplow will be safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it or use caution when passing.
- On multiple lane roads, watch for snowplows operating in either lane. Snowplows travel much slower than the posted speeds while removing snow and ice from the roads. When you spot a plow, allow plenty of time to slow down.
- Be aware the snowplow may not see you. A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them but they may not see you.
Before leaving home, be prepared for the weather
- Check local news websites, such as WATE.com, and download local news and weather apps that send alerts straight to your phone from the National Weather Service.
- Clear the snow off all of your vehicle’s windows and lights, including brake lights and turn signals. Make sure you can see and be seen. Always buckle up.
- Give yourself extra time to reach your destination safely. It’s not worth putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation just to be on time.
- Winter conditions can harm your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s tires, brakes, fluids, wiper blades, lights, belts, and hoses to make sure they‘re in good condition before the start of the winter season.
- Be prepared for emergency situations. Take a cell phone and keep it charged so you can call for help.
- Keep an emergency safety kit in your vehicle that includes a warm blanket, water, a flashlight, reflectors, jumper cables, a first aid kit and an empty gas can. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of gloves.