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PennDOT urges Pennsylvanians to prepare for travel in winter weather

A man brushes snow off a car.
Gene J. Puskar
A resident of the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh brushes snow off a car, Tuesday morning, Feb. 22, 2011.

As winter approaches, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is cautioning drivers to prepare themselves and their vehicles for the snowy season.

Over the summer, PennDOT shored up its supply of 133 plow trucks, 64,500 tons of salt and 70,700 gallons of brine in anticipation of winter weather, said Yasmeen Manyisha, a safety press officer for PennDOT district 11.

“While most people are thinking about summer weather and what we have going on in construction, we are actually spending that time to prepare for winter,” she said. The stockpile will be used to clear roads in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties over the coming months.

But before the first serious weather events of the season occur, Manyisha said the department is urging Pennsylvanians to prepare their cars for the winter by checking fluid levels, lights, defrosters and windshield wiper blades. Motorists should also check tire air pressure levels and tread depth to ensure they can perform safely on ice and snow and put together an emergency kit to leave in the car.

“This is something you should have year-round, but the things that you need in the winter may change a little bit,” Manyisha said. During the winter, “you should have things like a blanket, extra warm clothing, cell phone charger, water. And if you have children, even small games or baby supplies. Tailor your kit to your specific needs. The idea of an emergency kit is to make sure that you have all of the supplies you need if you are stranded in your car for a couple of hours until help comes.”

When the first winter storms come to the region, PennDOT’s primary focus will be on making main interstates and expressways passable, not entirely clear of snow and ice, Manyisha said. Drivers should stay alert, avoid less traveled streets and potential distractions, and give plows a wide berth.

Drivers can monitor road conditions and snow plow locations at

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at