In 2011 the Indiana legislature passed a new law which put the entire state on the same system when it comes to alerting motorists to winter weather travel hazards. Prior to the new system, each county had its own system, some of which differed greatly between what they considered a snow emergency; how and when they alerted drivers and what that alert said.

No more of that old confusing system, now comes a new, statewide system meant to eliminate confusion and help drivers understand when it is safe to drive and when the winter weather makes it just too dangerous.

Anyone who has attended an Indiana traffic school knows that winter can be a tough time to try traversing Indiana roadways. An abundance of cornfields, plowed down in the winter, create huge expanses of wind swept territory which can cause nearby roads to ice over. Also, the weather in Indiana, situated just west of the Ohio River Valley, east of the Rockies and south of the Great Lakes Region is prone to wildly divergent weather patterns. One day the temperature can be in the 70’s and the next day it is below zero. This makes planning a road trip between October and March a tricky business.

The new winter weather alert system in Indiana was designed by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. It has three color-coded levels based on the type of warning that particular county wants to issue.

There is an Advisory (Yellow) level for when motorists are warned to be on the lookout for difficult driving conditions in specvific areas. This is the lowest level and it essentially means, drive with caution because the weather is not good. Schools might close and so might businesses, so be aware of what’s going on before you head out the door.

There is a Watch (Orange) level for when driving conditions are a danger to the general public.The only people out driving during a Watch are people who have to get back and forth to work or have some essential business being out on the road. This is not the time to run to the store for a box of Twinkies. Stay home and stay off the roads unless you have to be out.

Then there’s the Warning (Red) level. This means only people who are required to be out, emergency vehicles; police, firefighters, paramedics, should be on the roads at all. In fact, if you’re caught out driving during a Watch police do have the right to ticket you, and probably will unless you have a darn good reason to be on the road.

So, if you’re planning on driving around Indiana this winter make certain you know the laws, and be sure to heed the warnings. And if you are unsure of what the driving laws are in Indiana, consider an online traffic school. The lessons you learn might just save you from a citation–or even, save your life.

Image: dan /