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For Immediate Release
January 11, 2012

Bridge Authority Issues Annual Winter Driving Tips

Highland, NY – With a combination of rain, sleet and ice possible this evening, the state Bridge Authority is reminding travelers about special conditions on bridges over the Hudson River.
Bridge crews on all five mid-Hudson region bridges are on stand-by if bad weather hits said Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero. Ruggiero said crews use a combination of sand, salt and special environmentally friendly de-icing chemicals to keep the bridges as safe as possible.
Ruggiero reminded drivers that no matter how prepared maintenance workers are or how well the roads are maintained, if a winter storm hits, the safest move is to stay home. "If you can't do that, then we recommend a couple of common-sense precautions," Ruggiero said.
Winter-weather driving tips particularly important on bridges include:

  • 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.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists and keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads freeze first. Even at temperatures a little above freezing, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Stay well behind and don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you'll probably find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

There are additional safety tips around toll plazas.

  • When approaching the toll booth, slow down slowly and leave extra space between vehicles. When leaving the toll plaza, speed up at a steady pace so you don't spin your wheels. Hitting the gas or the brake hard can result in a loss of traction and a spin-out.
  • Four-wheel drive SUVs and larger vehicles might help you get better traction in snow, but they don't stop any faster. In fact, heavier vehicles, such as full-sized SUVs can take longer to stop because of increased weight.

It's true! "Bridge Freezes before Roadway"
We've all seen the signs, but why are bridges different? It's a question the Bridge Authority gets every winter.
"Roads absorb residual heat from the ground. Since bridges are surrounded by air, and the air is colder than the ground, bridges freeze before roadways," Ruggiero said. He added that this is true not just for the Hudson River bridges, but every bridge or large culvert, whether over water or land.

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