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NCDOT preparing for storm; AAA driving tips

Department of Transportation

AAA Carolinas

State transportation officials are helping with evacuations along the coast, readying emergency supplies and finalizing preparations for Hurricane Florence.

Highways

NCDOT staff in all 100 counties have prepared equipment for possible clearing efforts, shoulder repairs and crossline replacements that can be used in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. A total of 2,166 employees in all 14 NCDOT divisions have been preparing for Hurricane Florence.

In Division 9, which includes Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Rowan and Stokes counties, staff have 101 personnel ready to respond with 69 chainsaws, six front-loaders, 14 backhoes, 8 motor graders, 46 barricades and 42 road closed signs.

In some areas of North Carolina, crews have staged equipment in different areas so it can be available once cleanup and recovery begins. Generators have been checked and readied, and traffic services offices are staging message boards and loading emergency trailers with barricades, signs and drums. NCDOT staff have made arrangements to have contractors on standby ready to respond to any storm-related tasks such as cutting and removing downed trees from roads.

NCDOT is also preparing active transportation projects for potential impacts. Erosion and control measures have been checked and staff are making sure earth-moving equipment and cranes are secure.

Division of Motor Vehicles

An additional 44 driver license offices, including the one in Salisbury, in central North Carolina will close by 3 p.m. today as Hurricane Florence nears the state.

North Carolina Division of Motor of Vehicles is operating under emergency conditions, which means road tests at offices in the projected path of Florence will be limited.

To protect the safety and well-being of the public and NCDMV employees, NCDMV driver license offices are being closed in areas most likely to be affected by Florence first. Other offices could be closed as Florence progresses inland.

Drivers who have appointments at the below affected driver license offices will be contacted to reschedule their appointments once regular services resume.

Thirty-one driver license offices in eastern North Carolina and some in central areas of the state were closed by noon Wednesday in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Road tests and mobile office visits were canceled in those affected areas. About 25 license plate offices were expected to close by the end of the day Wednesday and could remain closed for the rest of the week, depending on the weather.

Closures and changes to office hours can be found on the office locations page of the official NCDMV website at MyNCDMV.gov. Many DMV services, including renewing driver licenses, ordering duplicate ID cards or renewing vehicle registration, can be done online.

AAA Carolinas is warning of the dangers of driving on flooded roads and promoting safety tips. Though it is projected to devastatingly impact the coastline, areas across North and South Carolina are expected to get heavy rainfall and be in danger of severe flooding.

“Water is one of the most deadly components of major storms and is something that many people do not take seriously,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Motorists feel safe in their vehicles against rainwater but they shouldn’t. Just a few inches of water can turn your vehicle into a boat, and could put your life at great risk.”

Driving tips

AAA urges motorists to adhere to the driving tips below if they encounter rising water on the roads:

•  Visibility while driving: If you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance while driving during wet weather, pull off the road as far as you can and wait for the rain to ease up. Make sure to turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.

• Slow down and leave room: Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. It is important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them.

• Avoid cruise control: Never use cruise control in wet conditions. The chances of losing control of your vehicle greatly increase.

• Responding to a skid: Even the most careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car is about to skid, don’t panic and follow these basic steps.

o   Continue to look and steer in the direction the driver wants the car to go

o   Avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

• Avoid standing water and flooded roads at all times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can be very dangerous. Flooded roads can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from:

o   Flooding the engine

o   Warping brake rotors

o   Loss of power steering

o   Short in electrical components

If your vehicle stalls in a flooded area:

o   DO NOT remain in the car.

o   If your vehicle shuts down while in standing water, do not try to restart it. That could cause more water to enter the engine and could cost thousands to repair.

o   Abandon your vehicle as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Flood waters can elevate quickly, sweeping away the vehicle and its occupants.

Please continue to adhere to the warnings and requests of safety officials. We urge you to take Hurricane Florence seriously and take the necessary precautions.

AAA Carolinas has created a site with all of its safety information, the latest evacuation updates and storm information in one place — carolinas.aaa.com/emergency for hurricane information.

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