'Drive winter smart'

Transportation officials give tips for staying safe on the road, provide data on winter maintenance in Pike

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  • Engineering Maintenance District 4 Supervisor Ken Thiele, Eastern Pike Regional Police Department’s Chief of Police Chad Stewart, District 4 Business Manager Chuck DeFebo, Lackawanna/Pike Community Traffic Safety Program’s Director Christine Sullivan and PennDot’s District 4 Business Manager Chuck DeFebo showcase one of 21 trucks under Thiele’s direction this winter. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • PennDOT’s Safety Press Officer for District 4 Michael Taluto offers tips and guides, all of which may be found at PennDOT’s site. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Lackawanna/Pike Community Traffic Safety Program’s Director Christine Sullivan said you should always carry in your car items for family members traveling with you (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • The snow plow’s door shows left entry. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— The folks who take care of our roads want you to be safe when the weather turns wild.

"Have your vehicle winter ready," said Christine Sullivan on Jan. 16, during Winter Driving Awareness Week in Pike County. She's the director of the Lackawanna/Pike Community Traffic Safety Program for PennDOT's District 4, which also includes Luzern, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

"Clean off the snow. Keep cell phone charged and the vehicle fueled, check the condition of your tires and keep a safe driving distance between your vehicle and the plows on the road," she said.

Chuck DeFabo, District 4's business manager, agreed, saying drifting snow causes problems even after the plow has been through an area.

"Slow down and be safe," he added. "Drive winter smart."

Sullivan presented items that should be in every vehicle traveling in winter:

Emergency travel kit

Flashlight and batteries

Battery-operated radio

Jumper cables

Cell phone and charger

Snow shovel

Matches and candles

First aid supplies

Extra-warm clothing and gloves


Ice scraper


Bottled water

Non-perishable food

Special medications

Baby supplies

Pet food

State-of-the-art plowsKen Thiele, Engineering Maintenance Supervisor for District 4, said the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides 24-hour coverage in inclement weather. Crews spread salt and brine when snow is under an inch, and plow when snow is over an inch.

He stressed that PennDOT is not an enforcement agency — only the police can enforce state laws.

He said his $250,000 trucks are technologically equipped. Motorists can go online at 511pa.com to see when any road was last treated. There are three cameras on the 511 site: one on Route 84, one at Routes 6 and 84, and one in Lords Valley at Routes 739 and 84.

Michael Taluto, Safety Press Officer for District 4, offered tips, which may be found on PennDOT's site (penndot.gov).

Eastern Regional Pike Police Chief Chad Stewart said he wants Pike residents home and safe during inclement weather, and not endangered by black ice.

"If you don't have to be out, you should be home," Stewart said. "Avoid agressive driving. Speeds accounts for most of the accidents in winter."

"Common sense is the beginning of success," Thiele said.

District 4, as always, is eager to have more money arrive from Harrisburg and Washington to spend on Pike's roads.

"When federal infrastructure dollars arrive in Pennsylvania, PennDOT has shovel ready projects," Thiele said. "We can begin working on much needed infrastructure projects when the federal money is received."

By the numbers

PennDOT’s District 4:
$21.5 million winter budget
3,932 road miles
8,403 snow lane miles
2,090 bridges
40 inches of snow (on average)
446 municipal agreement miles
109,632 tons of salt used last winter
825,469 gallons brine used last winter
86,228 tons of anti-skid used last winter
Pike County:
678 snow lance miles
38 inches of snow (on average)
38 municipal agreement miles
11,394 tons of salt used
65,147 gallons brine (at minus 10 degrees, calcium chloride is added to lower the freezing point)
$2.2 million budget
21 plow trucks
23 anti-icing trucks

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