TxDOT offers winter weather driving tips
AUSTIN, Texas - As Texans brace for the winter weather, TxDOT is preparing around the state. They say it's important to drive slowly.
TxDOT crews have been pre-treating the roads, with some crews starting as early as Friday.
They're focusing on bridges and overpasses as well as the main lanes of major roadways, according to Tony Hartzel of TxDOT's Dallas District.
"We started pre-treating the roadways yesterday. We continue that effort today. We have now switched to 24 hour staffing. And so we will continue to stay on this storm until it's done," said Brad Wheelis, a TxDOT spokesperson.
TxDOT crews have two methods of treating the roads, the first is laying down a pre-treatment that can help ice from forming. It can be applied up to 48 hours of severe weather.
"This is a saltwater solution that we lay down. It dries out, and then it prevents ice from forming and sticking together. So it buys us a little more time on the roadway, but it's not a miracle. And so we sometimes have to go back in and retreat those areas. But what we're hoping with this storm is that those pre-treatments take hold," said Wheelis.
Then, if ice does form, they'll use a granular substance to melt it, giving priority to the most heavily trafficked areas.
"We tackle the major roadways to keep those passable and then those secondary roadways if time allows, and we get to those, those primary roadways will move to the secondary," he said.
Wheelis said they have more than 400 pieces of equipment that they use, including close to 200 brine trucks that are currently out in full force.
But even with TxDOT crews hard at work, there are no guarantees.
"Passable is not perfect. So we want folks to know that if you don't have to travel, you shouldn't," Wheelis said.
If you experience icy conditions, TxDOT says you should increase your following distance to about 5 to 6 seconds.
Don't rely on 4-wheel or all-wheel drive to allow you to drive as fast as you want. Once you've built up too much speed, it can be hard to brake. And, of course, don't use cruise control.
"You have to drive for yourself and other people as well because a lot of people don't take this weather seriously," said Dallas resident Sabrina Ridgway. "But this is Texas, you never know what to expect in Texas."
If your car does begin to slide, officials say you should turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid.