YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – With severe winter weather on the way, there is also the potential for slippery conditions on the roadways.
More than 50 vehicles wound up in a chain-reaction crash on I-90 in Lake County, including 20 semi trucks. Several people were trapped in their cars for hours, and at least 19 were taken to the hospital.
In Youngstown last month, around 40 cars were involved in a pile-up on the 711 connector, shutting down the road for more than four hours.
So what should you do if you’re caught up in a similar traffic jam?
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says the key is to be prepared.
“It’s one of those things you got to be prepared for, especially this time of the year because it could happen just that fast,” Sgt. Jason Bonar said.
Bonar says it only takes an instant for road conditions to change.
“You can literally be driving some parts, there’s not even a dusting on the road. Next thing you know, when you are in that snow belt, you’re in feet of snow.”
Chain reactions, like those on I-90 and 711, can happen just about anywhere.
“If you’re caught in it, we recommend that you stay in your vehicle, put your four ways on. If you can safely get off the road, we recommend you do that,” Bonar said.
That’s why it’s best to slow down and be prepared for anything this time of year.
It’s important to keep a few key items in your car, including blankets and other emergency supplies like snacks.
Bonar says you should make sure your car is winter-ready with good windshield wipers, enough wiper fluid, sufficient tire tread, a charged cell phone and a good amount of gas.
“Keep at least a half a tank in case you do get stuck, stranded in traffic, or you get caught in the snow somewhere, you know you’re able to run your motor and keep warm for a little while,” said Shawn Cranks, with C.O.P.S. Driving Academy.
If you are in the middle of a crash and someone has already called the authorities, you can dial #677 to reach a local Highway Patrol post.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been preparing for the past few days with staffing and equipment for the winter weather.
About 40 trucks and 80 drivers will be out in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Brent Kovacs, spokesman for ODOT, says they will be using a special mixture to battle the dropping temperatures and snow.
“Right now, we’re seeing a little lull in the snow Friday and Friday afternoon, it’s going to be picking up Friday night to Saturday morning,” he said. “Our crews are going to be staying busy. We’re working 12-hour shifts and have a full fleet of trucks ready to go.”