Updated Friday 9:10 p.m.
The Illinois Tollway has helped 159 motorists so far today, according to a press release.
Its trucks will continue to plow overnight to deal with the heavy snowfall. "Once the main roadways are clear, work will begin to remove remaining snow from roadway shoulders, ramps and toll plazas across the 286-mile system," the release said.
Updated Friday 3:35 p.m.
The Tollway has helped 28 motorists so far in today's storm, according to a press release. Employees have changed tires and batteries, given out fuel and called for tow trucks.
In anticipation of Friday's four to seven inches of predicted snow, the Illinois Tollway is readying its full fleet of 183 snowplows to clear the roads.
The National Weather service in Chicago has issued a winter weather advisory in effect from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. It predicts that the heaviest snow will come between late morning and early afternoon.
The Tollway said in a press release that it will open its Snow Operations Center early on Friday and have 200 staff on hand for all shifts. It is also canceling all temporary lane closures for 24 hours starting at 7 a.m. on Friday.
The Tollway's press release included the following driver tips for staying safe during a heavy snowfall:
* Clear snow and ice from all windows, mirrors and lights on your vehicle before you drive. Blowing snow can significantly diminish visibility. Clearing all snow before you begin driving assures maximum vision of your surroundings and assists in reducing ice and snow buildup as you drive.
* Adjust speed to road conditions and traffic around you. Reducing speed during inclement weather conditions increases your ability to respond to the unexpected.
* Reduce speed on ramps and in cash lanes at toll plazas. Drivers paying cash at toll plazas or traveling on ramps should adjust their speed on approach during snow and ice storms. Watch for lane designations on approach to the toll plaza; switching lanes close to the toll plaza is unsafe, especially during winter weather.
* Increase the interval between your vehicle and the one in front of you. By creating more distance between your vehicle and others, you decrease your chances of a collision because stopping distances increase as pavement conditions deteriorate.
* Avoid unnecessary lane changes. During heavy snowstorms, slush and packed snow build up in the area between traffic lanes. Abrupt or frequent lane changes may cause your vehicle to slide on the buildup and spin out of control.
* Keep away from snowplows. Should you encounter snowplows, the safest choice is to keep back and let them do their job. They travel at a speed of approximately 30 mph, so traffic delays should be expected. During periods of extremely heavy snow, Illinois Tollway snowplows will work in tandem to remove as much ice, slush and snow as possible from all lanes at once.
* Do not use the shoulder of the road to pass a snowplow. Some snowplows are equipped with wing plows that extend to the left or right of the vehicle. While these wings allow for more efficient removal of snow, they are nearly invisible to passing motorists due to blowing snow. De-icing materials spread from the rear of the truck may also be a distraction to motorists attempting to pass.
* Call *999 for roadway assistance. Should you encounter car trouble and require roadway assistance, try to move your car to a safe position on the shoulder or in an untraveled area. Report stranded vehicles by dialing *999 from a cellular phone.
* Stay in your vehicle, H.E.L.P. is on the way. During continued periods of extremely cold weather, the Illinois Tollway operates a "Zero Patrol" to supplement the Illinois State Police District 15 and the Tollway's Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) vehicles. These patrols enable us to cover the entire 286-mile Tollway system 24 hours per day when temperatures and wind chills are at or below zero. Stay in your vehicle - it's the safest place to be if you are stranded.