During earlier times as travelers began to venture from their local towns, there was great concern that their wagons might be halted by road robbers. Travel on the first American roads, though unsafe, was also uncomfortable and extremely slow. The dirt surfaces were dusty in summer and muddy in winter. Weather conditions frequently closed the roads and delayed trips for days on end. Even the arrival of privately built toll roads or turnpikes in the late 1700s failed to improve the state of colonial land transportation. Weather was always a prime factor then in how or when people and goods could be transported.
Today's great multilane interstate highways and high-speed turnpikes are much safer and more comfortable for travel, especially during times of hazardous road conditions due to weather. Highways are quickly sanded during icy condition, and snow is removed almost as fast as it falls. Work crews are placed on advance alert when winter storms are forecast. Motorists are forewarned about the kind of weather they will encounter en route by large well-lighted signs telling about snow, ice, blowing sand, or fog dangers.
Trailers are most often banned from entering turnpikes when high winds are reported. Speeds of vehicles are reduced when weather conditions pose a threat to safe driving. Highway police on patrol are always ready to set warning flares on the roads to induce drivers to slow down in areas where smoke or haze might reduce visibility. In the interest of safety, permanently mounted signs such as "Road May Be Flooded," "Caution: Crosswinds on Bridge," or "Bridge Freezes Before Roadway" are now posted along interstate routes. Also, coastal areas now erect "Evacuation Route" signs in anticipation of possible storms.
Large snow accumulations can close a feeder road to a major highway. The most treacherous road hazard of all occurs when freezing rain causes layers of "black ice" to form suddenly at unforeseen parts of a roadway. Unsuspecting drivers reaching the icy spot are unable to stop and most