BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) encourages the public to use caution and drive carefully during Tuesday’s evening commute and travel on Wednesday as forecasters are calling for winter weather at locations throughout the state. Drivers are advised to lower their speeds, wear their seatbelts, give themselves extra time to reach their destinations, and remember MassDOT’s message “Don’t Crowd the Plow” and stay behind snow removal equipment on the roadways.

“This season, the Highway Division has responded to 17 snow and ice events across the state, and there have already been 13 incidents of MassDOT snowplows being struck by vehicles,” said Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin. “These types of incidents can be dangerous for all travelers on the roadways as a fully-loaded plow weighs about 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle. With the upcoming weather, it’s important to remember that safety is the greatest priority and we advise all travelers to minimize distractions, give themselves extra time and space, and don’t crowd the plow.”

Forecasters are predicting that the upcoming weather system will bring snow to the state beginning this afternoon and move northeast throughout the evening. Some rain may mix in along coastal areas Tuesday night, but generally a few inches of snowfall are expected. With the possibility of temperatures dropping below the freezing point, drivers should be cautious of ‘black ice’ on the road surfaces. Starting this morning, MassDOT began preparing in advance of any inclement weather. For example, the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on I-93 between Boston and Quincy will open early today at 2 p.m., in order to accommodate commuters who are leaving work early and traveling before the winter weather begins.

Drivers are encouraged to lower their speeds during inclement weather and use the appropriate resources to make an informed decision regarding their travel plans. MassDOT strongly urges drivers to always wear their seatbelts, minimize distractions, turn off or put away cellphones and devote their full attention to what is ahead on the road.

As an example of the danger of failing to give snowplow drivers extra space, please see this video of a tractor trailer truck passing and clipping a snowplow in Utah and sending the plow truck off the road and through a guardrail. Fortunately, the plow driver in this video is expected to make a full recovery and meanwhile, the driver of the tractor trailer was issued a citation by law enforcement.

For updates on road and traffic conditions in Massachusetts, drivers can:
• Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads.
• Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
• Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions and MassDOT’s efforts to treat major highways throughout the Commonwealth.
• Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
Other important winter driving tips include:
• Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof- before driving
• Leave plenty of room for stopping.
• Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
• Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
• Bridge decks freeze first. Due to the difference in the exposure to air, the surface condition can be worse on a bridge than on the approach road.
• Exit ramps are an even greater challenge during the winter since they may have received less anti-icing material than the main line.
• Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows – stay back at least 200 feet and don’t pass on the right.
• Most importantly please remember to slow down. Also, seat belts should be worn at all times – it’s the law.
More information on safe winter driving can be found at: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/departments/snowice/safewinterdrivingtips.aspx