As area residents prepare for the year-end holiday season, officials and experts are offering tips to keep them healthy and safe.
“Operation: Holidays in complete safety” a holiday safety initiative from PennDOT, is currently underway, according to Kim Smith, PennDOT’s District 3 safety press secretary.
“We like to remind everyone of two important things: always wear your seat belt and never drive while impaired by drugs and alcohol” Smith said. “Over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs can harm you when combined with alcohol. “
Smith also reminded motorists of unexpected weather conditions to consider while traveling. She warned travelers to keep an eye out for black ice that can form in cooler, heavily shaded areas.
Additionally, motorists should be careful on high-altitude roads, such as Highway 44 between Allenwood and Jersey Shore, according to Smith.
Smith eventually warned that bridges tended to freeze ahead of the roadway and motorists should exercise caution when approaching bridges.
In fog, haze, rain and sleet, it encourages drivers to slow down, increase tracking distance, and make sure their headlights are on.
“Every time you use your windshield wipers, the law says your headlights should be on, not just the daytime running lights, but full headlights.” Smith said. “Your daytime running lights are only displayed at the front of the vehicle; they do not illuminate the rear of your vehicle.
Smith encouraged residents to use the 511PA app and website to track road conditions before travel. The app tracks snowplows and the safest place is behind the snowplow, she said.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission advises those traveling on the toll freeway to also use the 511PA, according to a press release sent Wednesday.
“We encourage travelers to be prepared by finding our traffic and traffic conditions online in real time and allowing them sufficient time to reach their destination safely.” Mark Compton, CEO of PA Turnpike, said.
More than 5.4 million motorists will use the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Thursday, December 23 through Sunday, January 2, according to the PA Turnpike Commission.
The commission expects an increase in highway traffic on Thursday, December 23, which will decrease until Sunday, December 26. Traffic conditions will improve until Thursday, December 30, before slowing down again over the weekend.
“We have added resources [to 511PA] to address traffic and safety issues due to increased traffic. Our goal is to provide our customers with the best travel experience possible ”, said Compton.
Compton encouraged vacationers to check out the 511PA app, which offers real-time information along their routes. A new feature of the app is the ability to subscribe to specific alerts, rather than receiving all alerts.
Dr Rutul Dalal, infectious disease expert at UPMC Williamsport, has advised county residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, get the booster, and get the flu shot.
“Be altruistic” Dr Dalal said. “Thinking about your family and members of your community will go a long way this holiday season. “
Dr Dalal encouraged those who cannot receive the vaccine to organize virtual holiday gatherings. In addition, he said everyone should keep their distance from those who are not immediately and be careful about the spread of COVID-19 to the immunocompromised, even if they are vaccinated.
He also advised residents to wear their masks when in doubt about a situation, and only pull it out to eat and drink before putting it back on.