Stateline first responders prepare for busy night after snowfall

Local News

PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO) — It has been a while since drivers have had to navigate through the snow.

Less than ideal conditions left some motorists sliding off the roads into ditches, which led to first responders preparing for a busy night. One local state trooper said that the first snow storm of the year is always a busy day for law enforcement.

Joe Dunn with ISP District #16 said that officers have been responding all day to cars sliding off slippery roads into ditches. He said that, while road crews prioritized tollways and other major streets, residential and rural areas are taking longer to get cleared.

“What we’ve been seeing is a lot of cars that slide off into ditches,” Dunn said.

Dunn believes that the best strategy to stay safe is avoiding travel altogether if at all possible, but if residents do need to get behind the wheel, it is best to leave plenty of extra time to get where they need to go.

“I know it’s the first snowfall of the season, but one of the most important things is to just slow down and increase your following distance, so that you’re not following other cars too closely,” Dunn said. “No sudden braking or accelerating, which can cause you to skid and go off the road.”

Helping drivers who are stuck on the side of the road can be dangerous for first responders. Dunn said that, while police are happy to help motorists during snow storms, it is harder to do when people do not obey Scott’s Law. If a squad car is on the shoulder with lights flashing, the law requires drivers to slow down and move over if possible. Drivers could be fined if they fail to do so.

It is common for drivers to ignore the law in the winter months, according to Dunn.

“When you come up on us, and you see our lights, slow down and move to that left lane if you can,” Dunn said. “Obviously, if there’s a semi or car next to you and you can’t get over, that’s one thing, but a lot of what we see is people not moving over at all, which is dangerous for us.”

Dunn said that if someone does get stuck in the snow and needs help from the police, they should stay with their vehicle while waiting for officers to arrive. He also suggested keeping several items in vehicles all winter in case of emergency, and that the best strategy to stay safe this winter is to avoid travel altogether during snow storms.

He said that if people need to be out on the road, they should be prepared for any scenario.

“Bring like a cold weather type emergency kit. Always make sure you have water, food, clothing, blankets, stuff that will keep you warm if you do get stranded,” Dunn said. “It might take a while for help to get to you if you’re in a pretty remote area. Try to conserve fuel. Turn on your heat only when you need to.”

A common mistake people make when stuck in the snow is to leave their car in an attempt to find help, according to Dunn.

“Stay with your vehicle, that’s also pretty important,” Dunn said. “It helps first responders find you easier when you’re with with your vehicle, especially when it gets super cold out, negative temperatures. We don’t want you to leave your vehicle because you could freeze, get hypothermia.”

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