CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is updating its blow over risk messaging during high wind events to include specific weights that are most at risk.
WYDOT first started messaging “Closed to Light, High Profile Vehicles” during high wind events in 2011, according to a news release.
WYDOT Intelligent Transportation Systems program manager Vince Garcia noted that recent research from the University of Wyoming allows the agency to “more confidently give actual weight restrictions during high wind events.”
“Better messaging means more informed drivers,” he added.
Throughout the winter, WYDOT will be using the updated weight-based wind closure messaging for light, high-profile vehicles across the state, including sections of Interstate 80, Interstate 25 and Wyoming Highway 28 where the state sees blow over hot spots.
The timing of the updates is intentional; data from 2016-20 showed the most blow over crash activity in February and December, with overall trends showing more blow over crashes in the winter months.
The first of this new messaging was seen on Oct. 25 on the overhead digital message signs at WYO 28, South Pass, and again on a portion of I-80 on Oct. 26.
“Unfortunately, some of the areas we see the strongest crosswinds are also highways that carry important goods and services,” Garcia said. “Our goal with this updated messaging is to facilitate as much movement as possible while keeping motorists safe.
WYDOT will monitor current and forecasted wind speeds, along with road geometry, to determine how heavy a commercial vehicle or other trailer would need to be to avoid the extreme blow over risk and will update that messaging in real time. Even so, drivers are encouraged to use their best judgement when traveling on windy days.
“When in doubt, wait it out,” Garcia said.
The new messaging will only be implemented in areas where there is adequate signage. Sections of highway without signage will continue to show “Extreme Blow Over Risk” hazard messaging.
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