Handheld cell use illegal when driving

Date Published: 2010-02-04

Contact: Meg Ragonese

Phone: (775) 888-7172

Title: NDOT Seeks Input on Washoe Valley Wind Warning System

Story Text:

To protect driver safety, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is reminding motorists to drive safely in high winds and seeking public input on the current wind closure notification system through Washoe Valley.

Drivers can log onto www.nevadadot.com/wind before March 31 to take a brief survey and provide feedback on the wind warning system located along U.S. 395 and State Route 429 (Old 395/Bowers Mansion Road) between Reno and Carson City.

Winds are frequently high in the area. In the past 16 years, approximately 30 high-profile vehicles such as commercial trucks, RVs, campers, buses and truck-trailers have crashed in the valley’s severe winds.

NDOT has had a wind warning system in place since the early 1980s to prohibit high-profile vehicles during high winds. In 1996, NDOT installed the current wind advisory system which automatically posts wind warnings and prohibitions based on wind speed. A “High Profile Vehicles Prohibited” message prohibiting high-profile vehicles from U.S. 395 during 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts or high sustained winds of 30 miles per hour or greater is posted on four overhead freeway digital message signs and radio road reports. While not behind the wheel, drivers can also dial 511 or log onto www.nvroads.com for wind closure information. The premier NDOT system allows high-profile vehicles to avoid the area during high-wind conditions and has become the basis for similar systems across the world.

Now, NDOT has embarked on a study to evaluate any new technologies that may further improve the system. The study will recommend whether the system may need to be updated or modified, and also evaluate the best high wind warning system for the new Interstate 580 freeway being built between Mt. Rose Highway and north Washoe Valley.

“We remind drivers to always drive safely and follow any wind prohibitions,” NDOT District Engineer Thor Dyson said. “There is nothing more important than driver safety, but we also realize the importance of commerce and travelers being able to travel through Washoe Valley. This study will help us continually keep abreast of any technological advancements and ensure that we have the most effective wind warning system for the safety and convenience of everyone traveling in Washoe Valley.”