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On January 8, 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) officially declared all state highways and U.S. highways in Wisconsin "frozen." Sure, it's cold out, but doesn't that seem a little extreme?
When you learn more about what they really mean by "frozen," it doesn't actually seem as strange and extreme as you might initially think.
What does it mean to declare a road as "frozen?"
When it gets cold enough, state law allows WisDOT to declare that roads are frozen. This doesn't mean that the roads are all covered in ice, but rather that the ground under and around the roads has frozen solid. A side effect of this freezing is that the roads are able to handle more weight, as the frozen ground essentially reinforces them.
So, when WisDOT issues a declaration of "frozen roads," it's actually signaling that weight limitations for certain types of vehicles have been raised. Specifically:
Exceptions to the declaration
Not all roads are covered by this declaration. Specific exclusions are:
Does this affect anyone other than truckers?
While the declaration won't change how most drivers go about their days, there is one important thing to remember: trucks with increased load weights are even more dangerous than usual. The more weight on a truck, the longer it takes to stop and the more likely it is to get in an accident if fast braking is needed. Additionally, the damage that a heavy truck can cause on a car or other passenger vehicle is immense, and adding up to another 18,000 pounds to these trucks will only increase the damage that results if there is a crash.
So even though WisDOT declaring the roads "frozen" doesn't affect you directly, be sure to remain careful around large trucks this winter!