Tips for driving safely on Indiana highways

SOUTH BEND, Indiana (WNDU) – State officials are taking the time to ensure you stay safe when driving in winter weather.

INDOT, the State Police and Indiana Toll Road folks spoke to us Thursday morning about things like how to drive safely on the highways, how to split the road with your plows, and what to do in the event of an accident, among other things.

You can start giving yourself more time.

Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, extra time to decelerate, and extra time to make sure you have what you need in an emergency.

Even if the weather slows you down while driving on the Autobahn, it’s still easy to sneak up on snowplows and salt trucks.

“Drive appropriately for the road conditions and remember plows go at about 35 mph so you’re going to run into them pretty darn fast so give them room to work,” said Indiana Toll Road COO Rick Feder.

Fedder says this actually puts you on a pretty good path to getting where you want to be.

“If you’re standing behind a snowplow, that’s probably the best spot. I can guarantee that the road ahead of this plow truck is probably worse than the road behind the plow truck. So stay behind the plow truck, slow down a bit, give that extra time some time and this plow truck will help you reach your destination, whether it is the next junction on the toll road or maybe you all the way down the corridor,” he said.

Even road sections are not all the same.

“Bridges freeze before the sidewalk, right? Remember as you approach a bridge, the bridge deck may be a little more frozen and have ice long before the tarmac or roadway does,” Fedder said.

For those trying to swerve past traffic, you might want to think twice about this lane change.

“When our plows plow a lane, the intermediate lanes can get muddy than the actual lanes. So if you drive in and drive over it again, it actually increases the risk of slipping vehicles,” said Cassy Bajek, PR Director of INDOT Northwest.

On days like Thursday when it really snowed, it’s also important to give the snowploughs space and patience. In most cases, the road behind the plow is the nicest to navigate, and without these workers it would be pretty much impossible to navigate the highway at all.

“Our plow routes take 2-3 hours to complete. So when we have snowfall falling at 1-2 inches per hour like it was last night the roads between the passes will be snow covered. We need drivers who are weather aware and up to the mark in the midst of a weather event,” says Bajek.

Follow these tips to stay in the driver’s seat and stay out of a snowdrift.