Don't be a statistic, know the warnings

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After being pummeled with ice last week that caused more than 32 crashes and slide offs, it seems a good time to remind people about emergency travel orders.

When Putnam County officials declared a Level 2 Hazardous Transportation Warning last Tuesday, many people were not sure what that meant.

One of the biggest questions asked is, when a local emergency is declared on county roads, is it still OK to drive to work?

Last Tuesday's warning was a level two. This permits only essential travel, defined as travel to and from work, travel to obtain essential medical care or required prescriptions or medications, travel to obtain essential supplies of food or fuel, travel to seek shelter or travel of emergency vehicles and emergency workers engaged in emergency operations.

Last Tuesday when crashes all over Putnam County made movement nearly impossible on either I-70 or U.S. 40, people were stuck for hours at a time. Some were even unable to get home.

When the county commissioners declare an emergency they have the option of choosing one of four levels.

* A level one emergency that restricts travel to emergency personnel only.

* A level two warning is when conditions threaten public safety. Only essential traffic is recommended, such as to and from work and for emergency situations. Businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations should implement their emergency action plans to determine if travel is required.

* A level three watch means routine travel or activities may be restricted in an area because of a hazardous situation. The public should use caution or avoid these areas. Schools and businesses may implement their emergency action plans.

* A level four caution is to be issued when a condition may develop that limits or hinders travel or activities in isolated areas. No travel restrictions are reported, but citizens should be alert to changing conditions.

None of the levels carry any penalties. However, police have the discretion of issuing tickets for people who cause traffic hazards by being on the road.

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  • The levels have always confused people. Maybe the BMV should print in their manuels that in icy road conditions, even 4 wheel drive vehicles are helpless.

    If it is just snow, you can still go.

    If it is ice and sleet, you'll slide off the street.

    -- Posted by Xgamer on Tue, Dec 30, 2008, at 5:00 AM
  • Is there a web sight to go to when wanting to check road conditions and closings? I went to the State Police post, Sheriff's Dept., News channels with no help trying to help my husband to get home from Indy.

    -- Posted by mad-mom on Tue, Dec 30, 2008, at 8:50 AM
  • The Indianapolis Star web site has a traffic page, and yes it goes out to Putnum County. During the storm I was on the phone with my son who was stopped on 40 just before Reelsville headed east and the web site showed the back up and wreaks information. I was able to zoom the map and tell him alternate ways to go instead of staying on 40. He was in Greencastle 20 minutes latter.

    -- Posted by bradsdad on Tue, Dec 30, 2008, at 11:53 AM
  • Where's the traffic page on the star's web site. I can't find it and am interested before the next storm, and you know it's coming.

    -- Posted by been there on Tue, Dec 30, 2008, at 6:00 PM
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