Tips for driving safely on Indiana highways

Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, extra time for stopping distance, and...
Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, extra time for stopping distance, and extra time to make sure you have everything you need in case an emergency happens.(Jack Springgate)
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -State officials are taking the time to make sure you stay safe while driving in winter weather.

INDOT, state police, and folks from the Indiana Toll Road spoke to us Thursday morning about how to drive safely on the highways, how to share the road with their plows, and what to do in the event of an accident among other things.

You can start by thinking about giving yourself more time.

Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, extra time for stopping distance, and extra time to make sure you have everything you need in case an emergency happens.

Even if the weather slows you down while driving on the highway, it’s still easy to creep up on snow plows and salt trucks.

“Drive for the conditions of the road and when there are plows out remember, they drive at around 35 mph, so you’re going to come up on them pretty darn quick, so give them room to work,” said Indiana Toll Road C.O.O. Rick Fedder.

Fedder says that will actually put you on a pretty good path to get where you’re going.

“When you’re behind a snowplow truck, that’s probably the best place to be. I can guarantee that the road in front of that plow truck is probably worse than the road behind the plow truck. So stay behind the plow truck, slow down a little bit, give that added time, and that plow truck is going to help you get to where you’re going whether that’s next interchange on the toll road or maybe you’re driving across the entire corridor,” he said.

Not all stretches of road are the same either.

“Bridges freeze before the pavement, right? Be mindful when you approach a bridge that that bridge deck may be a bit more frozen and may have ice well before the asphalt does or the roadway,” Fedder said.

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

“Our plows when they’re plowing one driving lane, the in-between of the lanes can get slushier than the actual driving lanes are like, so when you’re driving into that and driving back over, that actually adds more slip hazards for vehicles,” said INDOT Northwest PR Director Cassy Bajek.

On days like Thursday when the snow was really coming down, it’s also important to give room and patience to the snowplows. In most cases, the road behind the plow is the nicest to drive on, and without those workers, it would be pretty impossible to navigate the highway at all.

“Our plow routes take 2-3 hours to complete, so when we have snowfall that’s coming down at 1-2′ inches an hour like it was last night, roads are going to become snow-covered in between passes. We need motorists to be weather-aware and to drive to the conditions in the midst of a weather event,” Bajek says.

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