AASHTO Journal, 18 November 2016
With snow already hitting some areas of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards said all PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks will be equipped with automatic vehicle location technology this winter so the public can know where the plows are on interstates and expressways.
The public will be able to view the more than 2,200 AVL-equipped trucks on a dedicated website, www.511PA.com. The AVL unit in each truck sends a cellular signal showing where a truck is located and whether or how much road-treating material the truck is spreading.
“Our residents count on PennDOT to keep them moving regardless of the weather and we take that mission very seriously,” Richards said during a Nov. 4 news conference at the PennDOT maintenance facility in Norristown.
“We have our materials and equipment in place and our staff of dedicated equipment operators, district-level staff and staff in Maintenance and Operations are ready to go,” she added.
PennDOT said it started the AVL program in 2014 in 119 plow trucks and expanded it to more than 700 last winter.
With $205 million budgeted for statewide winter operations, PennDOT said it deploys about 4,800 on-the-road workers across the state and has more than 768,000 tons of salt stockpiled.
The state’s plow trucks are also equipped with computerized salt spreaders that allow operators to calibrate the exact amount of salt to be distributed regardless of the speed of the truck.
“Our equipment operators have an enormous amount of responsibility during a storm as they plow snow, monitor computers that control the flow of salt, monitor pavement temperatures, and keep their eyes on traffic and possible roadside obstacles,” Richards said. “We urge drivers to allow plenty of space to snow plow operators so they can perform their jobs effectively and safely.”
When winter weather hits, PennDOT said its primary focus is on interstates and expressways, and that equipment may be redirected to those routes during significant winter events.
“The more traffic a roadway has, the more attention it will receive from plows, so motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions,” the agency said.
Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 224 crashes resulting in 103 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors were factors, such as speeding or making careless lane changes.