Posted March 9, 2013 by Sean Blackmore in Family

Snow-fighters keep roads clear and save lives

Snow and ice affect more than 70 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Each and every winter the average driver in these regions will see a lot more than five inches of snow on the roads. And when the snow is falling there are handful of issues a lot more comforting than the sight of snow plows and salt trucks creating highways safe for commuters, shoppers and travelers.

In the Snow Belt, citizens expect roads to often be cleared of snow and ice, no matter how poor the storm, says Bret Hodne, public operates director for West Des Moines, Iowa. To assist meet these sky-higher expectations, Hodne orders salt months just before the initial snowflake falls. His motto is “never trust your climate,” simply because if you plan for an average season it really is bound to be a record-setting winter of snow and ice.

Snowfighters 1st started utilizing salt in the 1930s for snow and ice control, but it wasn&rsquot till the 1960s that salt became extensively adapted as 1 of the main weapons to preserve winter roads safe. In an typical Iowa winter, Hodne’s department alone uses four,000 tons of salt and keeps twice that amount in storage.

Salt operates by lowering the freezing point of water, and when applied on already-frozen roadways (de-icing) it helps to melt the ice. When salt is applied prior to a freeze sets in (anti-icing) it assists avert liquid water from becoming ice. This is why drivers will frequently see salt trucks out and about ahead of the roads start to freeze.

Each approaches give tires a lot more traction with the pavement, maintaining roads open and safe while guarding lives and commerce. How swiftly salt melts frozen water depends upon a number of variables, like temperature, time and the rate of application. Luckily, it is usually not required to melt all the snow and ice on a road. Merely destroying or stopping the bond among pavement and frozen water is a far more efficient, economical and environmentally sensitive approach. In reality, salt is the single most effective and economical approach for treating roadways.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, snowy, slushy or icy pavement accounts for much more than 116,000 Americans injured and more than 1,300 killed on each and every year. In truth, 24 % of all weather-associated vehicle crashes take place under such wintry situations. A study by Marquette University &nbspfound that efficient use of road salt decreased car crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 % and the cost of accidents by 85 percent.

Icy road circumstances are not restricted to northern states, however. Sudden and unexpected snow storm and freezing rain can impact southern states as effectively. In January 2011, such a snowstorm hit Atlanta covering roadways in a sheet of ice and shutting down routine business and traffic for five days. In response, Bill Shelton, road maintenance division manager of suburban Cobb County, has implemented a distribution program that gets salt from storage to roads as speedily as attainable. Alternatively of storing salt and sand in just one place, Shelton has spread it out to 5 spots all through the county for easier access to its 2,500 miles of roads.

Snow-fighters have a number of safety guidelines for winter drivers. The most crucial is if you can steer clear of driving, it is greatest to stay off the roads — at least until the snow plows and salt trucks have had a possibility to do their job. It is also very best not to pass road-clearing trucks. Drivers will also want to make confident they have tires with great traction, cleared windows and headlights with effectively functioning windshield wipers and anti-icing fluid in order to see and be seen, and to leave a great quantity of space in between their car and the one in front. Ultimately, keep in mind that taking your time and driving safely is a lot more probably to get you to your location. For far more information please go to www.safewinterroads.org.

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Sean Blackmore