DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WREX) — The Illinois Tollway is deploying around-the-clock Zero Weather Road Patrols to more quickly locate and assist customers who become stranded on the Tollway system during the cold weather and dangerous wind chills forecast to continue into the weekend.
The Illinois Tollway typically operates Zero Weather Road Patrols whenever temperatures or sustained wind chills fall below zero degrees to bolster the roadway assistance already provided by the Illinois Tollway’s Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) trucks and the Illinois State Police.
The 24-hour Zero Weather Road patrols search for drivers stranded in disabled vehicles and also respond to calls that come in to *999 motorist assistance, Illinois Tollway dispatch or Illinois State Police District 15.
Drivers who becomes stranded along the Tollway system should dial *999 for assistance and remain in their vehicle until help arrives.
A minimum of 12 Zero Weather Road Patrols provide additional coverage throughout the day and night, including weekends.
The Zero Weather Road Patrols consist of crew cab trucks equipped with arrow boards for directing traffic around accidents or stranded vehicles and accommodate passengers if motorists need to be transported to a Tollway maintenance garage, toll plaza or Tollway oasis while service is obtained.
As a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, glass partitions have been installed between the front and rear seats in motorist aid trucks and H.E.L.P. trucks to protect customers and Tollway workers operating the vehicles. Those vehicles also carry masks and hand sanitizer as additional precautions against COVID-19.
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.
“We’re putting additional crews out on our roads during this dangerously cold weather to more rapidly assist and better protect customers who become stranded or need help,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez. “Safety is our highest priority, and during these extreme conditions we are taking this step to provide an additional layer of safety for drivers traveling on our system.”
The Tollway offers the following travel tips to keep safe during dangerously cold weather:
- Cell phone users should call *999 motorist assistance for roadway assistance and note the roadway and direction of travel and nearest milepost or crossroad.
- 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.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra to account for additional driving time if the weather is unfavorable.
- Keep a cold weather safety kit in your car that includes gloves, boots, blankets, road flares, water and a flashlight with fresh batteries.
- Stranded motorists should turn on their emergency lights and remain in their vehicles until help arrives.