Illinois Tollway to Double Zero Weather Road Patrols During Extreme Cold

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Zero Weather Road Patrols augment H.E.L.P. trucks and State Police District 15

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway plans to double the number of Zero Weather Road Patrols it provides to assist customers stranded in their cars during the upcoming severe cold weather. The Zero Weather Road Patrols provide roadway assistance when temperatures or sustained wind chills are below zero degrees.

The Tollway anticipates activating Zero Weather Road Patrols overnight tonight, January 3, and continuing into Wednesday, January 8, or until the temperature or wind chill rises above zero. The Tollway is advising drivers that strong winds expected overnight Friday into Saturday, January 4, could cause blowing and drifting snow that may significantly reduce visibility on some roadways.

The 24-hour Zero Weather Road Patrols search for drivers stranded in disabled vehicles and respond to calls that come in to *999 motorist assistance, Illinois Tollway dispatch or Illinois State Police District 15. The *999 service is funded by the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

While the Tollway’s Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) trucks sponsored by State Farm run from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, the Zero Weather Road Patrols work throughout the day and night, including weekends. Cars or trucks with empty fuel tanks, flat tires, batteries needing a boost, or overheated radiators are just some of the most frequent problems reported among drivers needing help.

“With dangerously cold weather settling in for the next several days, we want our customers to know they should stay with their vehicles if they become stranded and not try to go for help,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Our Zero Weather Road Patrols are a phone call away and are ready to provide around-the-clock help to drivers who need assistance.”

Typically, there are a minimum of 11 Zero Weather Road Patrols, at least one from each of the Tollway’s maintenance garages located throughout the system. During the most extreme cold weather expected early next week, the Tollway anticipates running two Zero Weather Road Patrols from each garage, or a minimum of 22 vehicles systemwide.

While on patrol, these vehicles also retrieve debris from the roadway and assist Illinois State Police District 15, as needed. Zero Weather Road Patrols augment H.E.L.P. trucks and State Police patrols and ensure all segments of the Tollway system are carefully monitored, especially during the overnight hours.

The Zero Weather Road Patrols consist of crew cab trucks equipped with arrow boards for directing traffic around accidents or stranded vehicles and enough room to accommodate up to five passengers if motorists need to be transported to a Tollway maintenance garage, toll plaza or Tollway oasis while service is obtained.

In dangerously cold weather, the Illinois Tollway oases also serve as warming centers. The Tollway encourages customers to visit one of the seven oases located along the Tollway system to warm up, check their vehicles or simply take a break. The oases provide a variety of food, beverage and retail offerings, as well as Mobil fuel stations. On the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80), there are four oases: Lake Forest, O’Hare, Hinsdale and Chicago Southland Lincoln in South Holland. There are two oases on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Belvidere and Des Plaines and one on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) in DeKalb.

Winter Weather Travel Tips:

The Tollway offers the following travel tips to keep safe during dangerously cold weather:

· 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. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for recommended tire pressure.
Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra driving time if the weather is unfavorable. Also, consider using winter or synthetic motor oil for colder temperatures, as conventional oils may thicken in colder temperatures. Check your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for oil that meets colder temperature ranges.
Keep a cold weather safety kit in your car that includes gloves, boots, blankets, road flares, water and a flashlight with fresh batteries. Other items to include: jumper cables, first-aid kit, basic tool kit, hot packs, bottled water and non-perishable snacks such as granola or candy bars.
· Stranded motorists should turn on their emergency lights and remain in their vehicles until help arrives.

Cell phone users should call *999 motorist assistance for roadway assistance or to report other motorists pulled over on the side of the road. Before calling, motorists should try to note the roadway and direction of travel and nearest milepost or crossroad so the stranded motorist can be quickly located.

Illinois Tollway Keeps Drivers Informed

The Tollway offers the following ways for drivers to get the latest travel information before they get on the road:

· – Construction/Planning section and Tollway Trip Calculator and real-time roadway incident information

· 1-800-TOLL-FYI – Daily lane closure and travel information (updated every two hours or as conditions require during winter storms)

· – Real-time travel times

· – Real-time roadway incident information at Tollway Trip 90, Tollway Trip 88, Tollway Trip 355 and Tollway Trip 94/294

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