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Posted at 3:57 PM ET, 01/31/2011

O'Malley cautions motorists

By Luke Rosiak

Maryland State Highway Administration crews are preparing for a storm forecasted to begin later tonight and continue Tuesday with sleet, freezing rain and light snow possible through Wednesday morning, officials said.

Crews pre-treated interstates with salt brine today, and more than 2,700 personnel and 2,400 pieces of equipment are available statewide along with roughly 270,000 tons of salt.

"Motorists should be aware that even a thin layer of ice on the roadway can result in dangerous driving conditions," a statement said--as if drivers could have already forgotten.

"Based on the latest forecast, this next storm will begin later tonight and continue through Tuesday morning's rush hour with another wave coming Tuesday night into Wednesday," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Slow down, leave plenty of time for your commute and allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Safety needs to be everyone's number one priority."

SHA will deploy six heavy duty tow trucks across the region to assist any disabled tractor trailers along the interstates. Officials cautioned drivers to move disabled vehicles out of travel lanes.

The following are tips for driving safely on icy roads from the state:

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Don't use cruise control on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
8. Don't pass snow plows. Plow drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles encounter trouble on icy roads.
Stay tuned to radio traffic reports for the most up to date information. Additionally, if traffic signals are out as a result of power outages, use EXTREME caution. Don't assume the other vehicle will stop. Only pass through an intersection when clear.

Motorists should always have an emergency survival kit to include:
• a shovel
• jumper cables
• snacks
• blanket or sleeping bag
• flashlight with extra batteries
• high calorie non-perishable food
• first aid kit
• extra clothes
• bottled water
• a charged cell phone
• kitty litter or other abrasives

By Luke Rosiak  | January 31, 2011; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Maryland, Weather  
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