Winter storm

Illinois State Police Asking Drivers to Stay Off the Roads During Winter Storm

In a message Wednesday afternoon, the department said it was asking the public to "stay off the roadways for the next couple of days during the severe winter weather"

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Illinois state police have a message for drivers: stay off the roads during the upcoming winter storm unless travel is "absolutely necessary."

In a message Wednesday afternoon, the department said it was asking the public to "stay off the roadways for the next couple of days during the severe winter weather expected to begin [Thursday]."

"If travel is absolutely necessary, allow enough time for travel and remain focused on the hazardous road conditions.  Slow down AND move over for those vehicles stranded on the side of the road and for those emergency vehicles and personnel assisting them," the message read.

ISP stressed that anyone who is on the road remember Scott's Law and not only slow down, but move over when approaching emergency vehicles.

“With the hazardous winter weather approaching, it is extremely important everyone follow the rules of Scott’s Law, which require motorists to move over when approaching emergency and other vehicles stopped on the side of the road,” ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said in a statement. “Our troopers and roadway workers are risking their lives to make the roadways safe. Do your part, remain attentive, slow down, and move over, so that we all make it home safely, not only this weekend, but always.”

The message comes as forecasters predict "white out" conditions, "zero visibility" and nearly impossible travel conditions in the days leading up to the Christmas holiday.

A winter storm warning will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle, Kendall and Grundy counties, according to the National Weather Service. The warning will take effect in Lake, DuPage, Kankakee, Cook and Will counties in Illinois at noon and in Lake, Newton and Jasper counties in northwest Indiana starting at 3 p.m. CT.

It will remain in effect across the area until 6 a.m. Saturday.

The National Weather Service is warning travelers and motorists -- whether they're taking trip out of town or just down the road -- that travel conditions during the height of the storm could be potentially "life-threatening."

The storm comes amid one of the busiest travel times of the year. According to AAA, 113 million Americans -- 5.8 million in Illinois -- are expected to travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2. Wednesday and Thursday alone, the Illinois Tollway estimating that 1.7 million vehicles are expected to use the tollway system.

The Illinois Tollway said it plans to have increased staffing on hand for the storm.

“Our top priority during this storm will be keeping our customers safe by operating our plows around the clock to rapidly remove snow and ice from our roads and by quickly responding to any drivers whose vehicles become disabled on our system during this severe weather,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Cassaundra Rouse said in a statement. “Our customers can help us keep them safe by slowing down, allowing extra time to reach their destinations and by giving our snowplows the extra room they need to keep the roads clear.”

The tollway reminded drivers that if they become stranded, they should call 999 to get assistance from Illinois State Police District 15.

Here are some other tips the tollway recommends for drivers:

  • Be sure your cell phone is fully charged before heading out. 
  • Be sure tires are properly inflated during cold weather. Tires lose a pound of pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. 
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra to account for additional driving time if the weather is unfavorable. 
  • Keep a cold weather safety kit in your car that includes gloves, boots, blankets, road flares, water and a flashlight with fresh batteries. 
  • Stranded motorists should turn on their emergency lights and remain in their vehicles until help arrives. 

At the same time, Metra has announced it will run a "modified" schedule and reduce service on its lines on Friday.

"With blizzard conditions forecast for the Chicago region and many regular commuters already beginning their Christmas holidays, Metra will reduce service on most lines across its system on Friday, Dec. 23," a statement from Metra read, adding that it will operate its normal weekday schedule on Thursday. Specific schedule information can be found here.

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