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Odessa District Engineer: Avoid Driving If You Can

ODESSA ­– Odessa District Engineer John Speed, P.E., is strongly discouraging travel as more winter weather is predicted across the 12-county Odessa District. Even with crews pretreating for the upcoming winter weather and working around the clock to address trouble spots, ice will be present on roads. It is impossible to cover all of the more than 8,000 miles of state-maintained roads in the 12-county Odessa District.

“The National Weather Service forecast for the Permian Basin almost guarantees that drivers will encounter some level of hazardous travel conditions from Friday evening through Monday night,” Speed said. “Even the best road treatments cannot fully overcome the weather described in this forecast.”

Companies are encouraged to pay close attention to the weather as they schedule transportation needs. School districts take this approach and it seems to work very well in avoiding traffic in slick conditions.

“The travel risks will be greater for vehicles like commercial trucks or loaded pickups where cargo may shift,” Speed said. “We strongly encourage owner/operators – and all motorists for that matter – to evaluate and adjust their plans for this period to reduce the chances of having drivers stranded, wrecked or injured.” 

With freezing mist and rain, the brine used to pretreat the roads earlier this week may be washed away in many places. Drivers should drive as if nothing has been pretreated. Any moisture present of the road could freeze again. It is impossible to prevent ice, especially toward the end of a multi-day event. Pretreatment with brine can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form. There will be patches of ice on the road, even on roads that are pretreated.

Not every road on the state system was pretreated. Likewise, cities and counties don’t have the resources to treat all of their roads. Motorists should absolutely avoid travel if necessary and use extreme caution if traveling is necessary.

If you encounter a vehicle spreading material on the road, please give the crews room to work in the interest of safety.

The National Weather Service is predicting extremely low temperatures across the district, but precipitation amounts won’t be uniform. Every motorist must assess the local conditions. Driving conditions across the state can be found at Drive Texas.

Motorists should extend commute times if they must travel. Here are some basic driving tips for winter weather:

  • Clear all snow and ice from windows to ensure proper visibility before driving.
  • Slow down. Speed limits are meant for optimal driving conditions. Smart winter driving requires driving to existing conditions.
  • Allow more room to stop. It is always possible that hitting ice will lengthen stopping distances.
  • Allow more room between you and other vehicles.
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • If you start to skid, take your foot off the gas and steer where you want to go.
  • Never slam on the brakes. Always use brakes gradually (again this lengthens stopping distances).
  • Make sure your vehicle is maintained properly.
  • Remember that bridges often ice over faster than other roads and that shady spots take longer to thaw.

Safe winter driving tips are part of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.