TRANSPORTATION CABINET ENCOURAGES USE OF “HOUSEHOLD TERMS”
FRANKFORT, KY (December 6, 2005) - The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has taken steps to establish uniform terminology when describing winter road conditions. “We want Kentuckians to become familiar with a few important phrases when dealing with wintry roads,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. “A proliferation of terms or catchwords does not constitute the best recipe for effective mass communication, especially when the topic is as crucial as the status of our roads during harsh winter weather.”
Weather related information on the condition of roads comes from every corner of the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Transportation Operations Center (TOC), which is located in the Cabinet’s Central Office Building in Frankfort, receives timely status reports from each of the Cabinet’s twelve District Offices. The TOC is also frequently updated on road conditions by Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement. Freeway management systems, including Artimis, which covers Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, and Trimarc, which covers Louisville, have a systematic connection with the Cabinet’s information network. One of the responsibilities of the TOC is to maintain the Condition Acquisition and Reporting System (CARS). With CARS the public can find accurate road condition information by using the 511 system, which is accessible by either telephone or the internet. CARS is currently being used by sixteen states.
Deputy State Highway Engineer Chuck Knowles said, “We’re trying to develop a uniform set of phrases which will become ‘household terms’ for Kentuckians.” When inclement weather descends upon the Commonwealth, Cabinet officials want to be able to communicate more efficiently with the public. “There should be absolutely no doubt about what we mean with any of our terminology,” Knowles stated. “A good rule of thumb would be: ‘If you hear it on 511, you’ll hear the same terminology from the rest of us.”
The following terminology will be routinely used by the Transportation Cabinet to inform the public about Winter Road Conditions:
Wet Pavement – The roadway is wet. Ice could form as temperatures drop.
Partly Covered – The roadway is partly covered with snow, slush or ice. Markings may be obscured.
Mostly Covered – The roadway is mostly covered with snow, slush or ice. Roadway markers may be difficult to see because of packed snow and rutting conditions.
Completely Covered – The roadway is completely covered with snow, slush or ice and markings are obscured.
Impassable – Roadway conditions are not suitable for travel unless required by an emergency.
“A better informed public means a safer public,” said Secretary Nighbert. “We have a responsibility to provide all Kentuckians with the best road condition information we can possibly offer. That’s what we’re striving for here, ‘household terms’ that can lead to life-saving decisions.”