Thu Jan 29 15:55:58 PST 2009
They Aren't Kidding about Snow Emergencies!
A Level Three Travel Ban means just that! Stay off the roads!
Every year we have to go through the drill of repeating what the three level of Snow Emergencies in Ohio mean.
I like to remember the three levels like a traffic light....
Level One means roads are slippery and snow or ice covered. Motorists are urged to use caution. (But there is no prohibition against traveling. Many misunderstand this level Snow Advisory, but we'll get to that later.) I always think of this as a green light.
Level Two means only essential personnel should be driving, but the definition of that term "Essential Employee" is determined by the employer. Employees should call their employer or supervisor for the word on whether they should report to work. It's like a yellow light.
Level Three means NOBODY TRAVELS. The only vehicles you will see on the road should be emergency response trucks, ambulances, cop cars and the like. Anyone who violates this Travel Restriction order is subject to citation and arrest. If you decide to travel, make sure you are ready to explain to the authorities why it was an emergency for you to do so, but be ready to pay the price! It's like a Red Light!
Now, just recently, one of our sheriff's gave a definition of the first Level One that included the phrase, Motorists should not drive.
This falls into a gray area, as it does NOT fit the state-wide definitions of what the levels mean.
However, the sheriff is entirely within his authority to make this type of declaration.
I searched on the Internet for an explanation of what the three levels mean, and every single response from every county includes the expression that motorists should use caution if they choose to drive in a level one Snow Emergency.
These travel restrictions stem from a legal interpretation that the Ohio Attorney General made in the last decade, giving the Sheriff's individual power to declare snow emergencies.
So, the local sheriff is correct in making an announcement that would restrict the movement of motorists due to snow conditions.
Certainly, there is no problem in erring on the side of caution... the public safety is paramount.
However, it is unfortunate that he didn't adhere to all the publicity that has been issued regarding these levels.
Let's hope that everyone got the right message!