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As Nemo Bears Down on Northeast – Highway Users Ask, “Are They Ready?”


CONTACT: Cathy Gillen
(202) 857-1203 office
(443) 463-4449 cell

February 8, 2013 (Washington, D.C.)  As Winter Storm Nemo bears down on the northeast, the American Highway Users Alliance (Highway Users) is monitoring the preparedness of state, county, and municipal agencies responsible for protecting motorists’ lives and keeping commerce moving.  An estimated two and a half feet of snow are expected to fall in some areas in what weather forecasters are already referring to as the “Historic Blizzard of 2013.”

The Highway Users represents nearly 300 companies and non-profit organizations, such as local AAAs, truckers groups, and bus companies that depend on safe highway mobility to move their members, customers, and products.

Every winter, over 116,000 people are injured and over 1,300 are killed on America’s
highways due to snowy, slushy, or icy pavement.  According to a Marquette University study, road salting and effective plowing can reduce injury crashes by up to 88 percent.

Perhaps no one knows the politics of snow removal better than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who suffered a massive political blow and saw his lowest approval rating in December 2010 after the city failed to quickly declare a snow emergency before a major storm dropped two feet of snow on the nation’s most populous city, leaving New Yorkers stuck in place for nearly a week, creating a backlog of more than 1,400 emergency 911 calls and several lost lives.

Bloomberg is now working to make sure New York City is ready.  Yesterday, he announced in a press conference and on Twitter, “We’re ready for #Nemo.  We have 250,000+ tons of salt on hand, 350 salt spreaders & plows ready to be put on 1,800 Sanitation trucks.”  The city has some 6,300 street miles to be plowed.  See the latest video here.

It is important to note that impassable roads aren’t just a safety issue – they cost society hundreds of millions in lost economic activity.  A report by the Highway Users showed that a one-day major snowstorm can create financial havoc by costing a state $300-$700 million in both direct and indirect costs. “Our study,” Cohen said, “should serve as a wakeup call for state and local authorities for bigger snow removal budgets.”

The economic impact of snow-related closures far exceeds the cost of timely snow removal.  The Marquette study showed that deicing pays for itself within the first
25 minutes after salt is spread and during the first four hours after salt is applied, the direct road users’ benefits are $6.50 for every $1.00 spent on direct maintenance costs for the operation.

“Maintaining clear, open and safe roads during inclement weather is in the best public safety interest of all citizens,” stated Greg Cohen, President and CEO of the Highway Users.  “Proper snow and ice removal/treatment saves lives by both reducing accidents and allowing emergency service personnel to safely respond to incidents in a timely manner.”

“Agencies responsible for road safety should always be well-prepared for the next big storm with adequate snow fighting manpower, supplies and equipment,” said Cohen.  “The public holds local elected officials – including Governors, Mayors, and Transportation Department Directors to a high standard during weather emergencies, as well they should.”

The bottom line, said Cohen, “Clear winter roads protect lives and commerce.”

The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, RV enthusiasts, truckers, bus companies, motorcyclists, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility.


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