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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Winter Chemicals on Reducing Crashes in Idaho

Started: April, 2011 Ended: May, 2014 Project ID #4W3544 Status: Completed


The goal of this research project is to evaluate winter chemicals and provide guidance on the most appropriate winter maintenance strategies to apply under specific roadway and climatic conditions within the Idaho Transportation Department districts. The research will evaluate the effectiveness of different winter chemicals on reducing crashes in Idaho.


Snow and ice control plays an important role in assuring the safety of winter driving. The United States spends $2.3 billion annually to keep roads clear of snow and ice; in Canada, more than $1 billion is spent annually on winter maintenance. Roadway maintenance agencies relied on abrasives (sanding material) in winter maintenance until the use of chemicals for deicing and, more recently, anti-icing strategies gained widespread acceptance. The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has been researching winter chemicals since the mid-1990s, and has supplemented traditional methods (snowplowing and sanding) with deicers and anti-icers based on the results of their work. The winter maintenance chemicals most commonly used by ITD are magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and sodium chloride, sometimes coupled with a corrosion inhibitor additive. As noted by ITD, different chemicals have different performance levels, costs, and best conditions for use. Currently, there is little research regarding the effects of winter maintenance practices on roadway safety, partly because of the cross-cutting nature of the problem and the lack of abundant (or quality) data. Hence, it is essential for ITD to investigate the safety issues involved with winter maintenance practices and to identify the most cost-effective and environmentally sound ways of using winter chemicals.


Sponsors & Partners

  • Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) Sponsor

Part of: Systems Engineering Development & Integration, Winter Maintenance and Effects

Project Tagged In: traffic safety, weather severity, winter maintenance

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