Treacherous travel conditions causing a domino-effect of major crashes and expressway jams Thursday prompted the Illinois State Police to activate its "emergency snow plan" for Cook County as heavy snow continues to fall across the Chicago area.
Motorists are being asked to stay off area roadways unless absolutely necessary.
To check Illinois road conditions throughout the storm, the Illinois Department of Transportation's Getting Around Illinois website offers a look at current winter conditions across the state.
Using a map, the site tracks which roadways are clear and which are partly, mostly or completely covered with ice or snow.
It also highlights so-called "trouble spots," where things like blowing snow have been reported or bridges and roadways prone to icing.
For those looking to track the snow in real-time, NBC Chicago's Live Doppler 5 shows a real-time and future look at the storm.
If you must travel, IDOT recommends:
• Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
• Make sure your gas tank is full.
• Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
• Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
• Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
• Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
• If you are involved in a crash or break down, remain inside your vehicle, which is your safest form of shelter. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
• Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.
IDOT provides regular updates on statewide road conditions at www.gettingaroundillinois.com.
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