Governor Cuomo Reminds Motorists to Be Safe While Traveling on New Year's Eve

Governor Andrew Cuomo today reminded New Yorkers that with lake effect snow forecast during New Year's Eve celebrations, it is a good time to be cautious and careful while celebrating 2016.

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Lake effect snow forecast during New Year's Eve celebrations in some parts of New York.

Photo by: Governor Andrew Cuomo, via Facebook.

Albany, NY - December 30, 2015 - Governor Andrew Cuomo today reminded New Yorkers that with lake effect snow forecast during New Year's Eve celebrations, it is a good time to be cautious and careful while celebrating 2016. Lake Effect Snow will move into central New York State this afternoon and continue through 6 P.M. on Saturday. The National Weather Service has issued a Lake Effect Snow Watch through Saturday afternoon for Jefferson, Oswego and Lewis counties. The greatest amounts of accumulation will occur in the Tug Hill Plateau region where up to 18 inches are possible. 12 to 18 inches are expected in lower elevations.

"With heavy snow arriving just in time to ring in the New Year, we want people be cautious and stay safe on the roads," said Governor Cuomo. "I urge all New Yorkers to prepare for the weather, be mindful of other drivers on the roads, take plenty of time arriving at your destination and never drink and drive or get into a car being driven by someone who is drinking."

The National Weather Service has also issued Lake Effect Snow Advisories for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, southern Erie, and Wyoming counties through noon on Saturday as 1 to 7 inches of snow are expected. Wind gusts up to 35 mph will result in low visibility and slippery conditions on secondary roads. 

The New York State Department of Transportation has more than 138,000 tons of road salt on hand in the region and more than 1,100 operators and supervisors statewide ready to respond with 400 large plow/dump trucks, 44 medium plow/dump trucks, 89 loaders, 20 truck/loader mounted snow blowers, 20 tow plows and additional resources as necessary. Additionally, variable message signs will display critical weather warnings. 

Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511, or by accessing online before traveling. This free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the updated, free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app now features drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.

The New York State Thruway Authority has 281 operators ready to deploy 111 large snow plows, 68 medium snow plows and 30 front-end loaders in the greater Syracuse and Buffalo regions. The Thruway Authority has approximately 75,000 tons of road salt along the system in central and western New York.

Motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalerts e-mails, which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting the website to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways. 

All New Yorkers can obtain emergency information through NY-ALERT, the State’s free, all-hazards, web-based alert and notification system. To subscribe, visit the website. If you do not own or have access to a computer, call toll-free 1-888-697-6972 or download the app on your smartphone at

Safe Travel
It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

  • When winter storms strike, do not drive unless necessary.
  • If you must travel, make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, a shovel, flashlight and extra batteries, extra warm clothing, set of tire chains, battery booster cables, quick energy foods and brightly-colored cloth to use as a distress flag.
  • Keep your gas tank full to prevent gasoline freeze-up.
  • If you have a cell phone or two-way radio available for your use, keep the battery charged and keep it with you whenever traveling. If you should become stranded, you will be able to call for help, advising rescuers of your location.
  • Make sure someone knows your travel plans.

Winterize Your Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season now will help ensure your vehicle is in good working order when you need it most. Have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:

  • Battery 
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Antifreeze 
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat 
  • Lights 
  • Exhaust system 
  • Flashing hazard lights 
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level

Also be sure to:

  • Install good winter tires.
  • Make sure the tires have adequate tread.
  • All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.
  • You may also want to carry a set of tire chains in your vehicle for heavy snow conditions.
  • Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal and maintain at least a half tank of gas throughout the winter season.
  • Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the local media report or call law enforcement agencies for the latest road conditions.

Drive Safely

The leading cause of death and injuries during winter storms is transportation accidents.

  • Before getting behind the wheel this winter season, every driver could learn a lesson from our school bus drivers. It is elementary, but we have to keep our vehicles clear of ice and snow. Good vision is a key to good driving.
  • Plan your stops and keep more distance between cars. Be extra alert. Remember, snowdrifts can hide smaller children. Moreover, always match your speed to the road and weather conditions.

Trapped in a Car

What would you do if a blizzard trapped you on the road? Here are some tips to follow:

  • Stay in your car and wait for help to find you.
  • Run your engine for short periods of time to stay warm. Keep your down-wind window open and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
  • Turn on the dome light at night when you are running the engine to signal rescuers.
  • Hang a brightly colored piece of cloth or piece of clothing from your car.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.