SCITUATE, RI – With another major snowstorm bearing down on the region, Colonel Ann Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, is urging motorists to use extreme caution during and immediately after the storm.
“The combination of heavy snow and strong winds, with the potential for blizzard conditions, will result in dangerous driving conditions throughout the state,” Colonel Assumpico said. “We strongly urge people to stay off the roads if possible. If you must drive, please allow extra time to get your destination and drive as safely as possible.”
Snowstorms also can result in lengthy travel delays, as happened during last month’s storm, Colonel Assumpico added. “Before heading out, make sure you have a full tank of gas and a charged cell phone. It’s also wise to keep blankets, hats, gloves and water in your car, in case you’re stuck for an extended period. In addition, remember: if your car breaks down or you’re stuck in traffic, stay with your vehicle. You’ll be safer inside your car than outside in the storm.”
Colonel Assumpico also urged motorists to use extreme caution around crews working to clear the roadways, and noted that heavy snowfall will make it difficult for them to keep roads clear – especially during the height of the storm. “Even roads that are recently plowed and sanded will quickly become snow-covered again, so it’s imperative for motorists to drive slowly and safely, paying close attention to road conditions at all times,” she said.
Colonel Assumpico also offered the following safety tips for motorists:
• Don’t drive if you don’t have to. Stay home, or use public transportation if available. If you must drive, let someone know where you’re going. Stay on main roads if possible, as they’re likely to be cleared before back roads and side streets.
• Remove snow from your vehicle before driving. State law requires motorists to clear all snow from the windows, roof, hood, trunk and license plates or face fines of $85. Don’t forget to clear snow from headlights and taillights, too.
• Remember to turn on headlights when driving in a storm. State law requires that if your windshield wipers are on, your headlights must be on, too.
• Slow down and allow extra distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Even four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles lose traction on snow- and ice-covered roads. Allow extra time and distance for braking, especially at traffic lights and intersections. Also, beware of black ice on roadways in addition to visible snow and ice.
• Be prepared for the unexpected. Strong winds can push your vehicle or other vehicles off track, or blow debris such as branches, trees and power lines, onto the road. Also, beware of snow and ice blowing off other vehicles, creating sudden hazards.
• If you are involved in an accident or have another emergency, pull off the road if possible and call 911.
• During and after the storm, if you’re travelling on back roads or side streets, watch for children playing on and around snowbanks lining the roads.
Colonel Assumpico noted that the Rhode Island State Police will be working with the Governor’s Office, the state Emergency Management Agency, Department of Transportation and other agencies throughout the storm to keep motorists safe.
“The best way to stay safe is to stay home,” Colonel Assumpico said. “If you must drive during the storm, remember to slow down and pull over for emergency vehicles. Also, use extra care when driving near snow plows and sanding trucks, giving them the space they need to get the roads clear and safe for all of us.”