Officials warn of black ice, slippery roads as winter driving season begins

CHICAGO -- Just after smashed-up vehicles were cleared from an empty lot on the Near South Side Sunday night, an SUV carrying two adults flipped over nearby, slipping off the road after it hit the same patch of nearly-invisible black ice near a Dan Ryan exit ramp.

Luckily no one was injured, but the crashes are reminders that being on the roads this time of year requires drivers to be even more vigilant in watching out for potentially dangerous conditions.

State officials converged on the Illinois Department of Transportation's Emergency Traffic Patrol headquarters Monday to remind drivers to be safe on the roads this winter.

"If the weather is bad, always ask yourself: 'is this trip really necessary?' Please take winter driving seriously and prepare for the unexpected," said IDOT Operations Manager Hiram White.

IDOT officials were joined by state police, tollway officials, snow plow drivers, and AAA to get everyone prepared for the winter weather yet to come.

This season, IDOT has added more than 100 new plows to its fleet, hired hundreds of seasonal workers, and officials say they are at the ready to handle inclement weather-- asking the driving public to be ready as well.

When winter weather strikes, allow extra time, don’t crowd the plows,and increase the distance between vehicles. With the recent opening of I-390, the Illinois Tollway has also beefed up its plow fleet, adding trucks and technology into the mix.

"We have some new roadside sensors that we’ve installed that have lasers to help us more accurately measure the conditions, pavement temperatures, and moisture levels out there," said IDOT Chief Engineering Officer Paul Kovacs. "These sensors will better inform us how and when to plow the road and also what type of materials to use."

Materials like salt are plentiful this year, thanks in part to a mild winter last year, and since we’re seeing wintery conditions already effecting the roads, it’s best to get you and your car prepared for the challenging commutes to come.