State Police nab 1,800 drivers for ignoring restrictions during winter storms |

State Police nab 1,800 drivers for ignoring restrictions during winter storms

Natasha Lindstrom
A snow plow clears a road in Western Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania State Police issued citations to more than 800 drivers of commercial vehicles — including tractor-trailers, flatbeds, box trucks and buses — for ignoring or violating emergency road restrictions during severe storms this week.

Troopers have issued more than 1,800 such citations so far this year, figures provided by state police Thursday show.

The snow, sleet and freezing rain that pummeled Pennsylvania between Monday night and Tuesday morning spurred strict travel restrictions and bans on slick and icy interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

“Records show that keeping high-profile vehicles off the roads during the worst periods of inclement weather is an effective way to prevent crashes and keep the roads clear,” Major James Basinger, director of state police’s Bureau of Patrol, said Thursday in a statement.

On Tuesday alone, Pennsylvania recorded at least 47 crashes — including 17 on restricted roads — and six notable injuries involving commercial vehicles, state police said.

Officials also issued at least 59 warnings to drivers of commercial vehicles.

State law allows Gov. Tom Wolf to modify vehicle rules temporarily during a declared state of emergency.

“Commercial vehicle crashes are a challenge to investigate and clear in any weather,” Basinger said. “During a winter storm, they can cause significant road closures, which lead to stranded drivers and increased danger for first responders.”

Restrictions enacted Tuesday included bans on tractors hauling empty trailers and flatbeds or double trailers, as well as bans on all commercial vehicles on certain roadways during the height of the severe weather and dangerous road conditions.

All speeds were reduced to 45 mph.

Citations for violating commercial vehicle rules start at $300 plus court costs.

Under similar restrictions put in place during a Jan. 19-20 storm, the state issued 993 citations and 222 warnings to commercial vehicle drivers and recorded two injuries and 12 crashes, including six on restricted roads, police data show.

No such restrictions were in place during a Nov. 15-16 storm, when the state recorded 97 crashes involving commercial vehicles and 14 injuries.

To report an accident on the Turnpike, dial *11 from a mobile phone.

View the latest traffic advisories and road conditions at or call 5-1-1.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.