(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A level one snow emergency in Ripley County is the same as a level two in Dearborn County is the same as a travel warning in Ohio County.
Confused? So were many southeast Indiana motorists when it came to dealing with varying systems used by counties to inform motorists of road travel conditions during snowstorms or other events.
Many county officials from around the state worried about such confusion. In 2011, Indiana lawmakers enacted a law putting the entire state on one system designed by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Over the past couple years, Dearborn County Emergency Management Director Bill Black has worked with his counterparts in neighboring counties to establish a uniform travel emergency policy.
“We got that working and now they’ve changed it,” Black said. “Now we’re color coding yellow, orange, and red.”
The new system has three color-coded warning levels each Indiana county can implement when necessary:
Advisory (Yellow) – Routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation. Citizens should use caution or avoid these areas. Schools and businesses may begin to implement their emergency action plans.
Watch (Orange) – Conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. Only essential travel is recommended (i.e., to and from work, emergency situations, etc.). Emergency action plans have been or should now be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.
Warning (Red) – Travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only. Citizens are directed to refrain from all travel, comply with necessary officials and disaster services forces in executing emergency operation plans, and comply with the directions or properly identified officers. Further and more specific restrictions may be included in the disaster declaration.
Black said police do have the authority to ticket motorists who are caught driving during a red warning.
“It helps keep the roads clear so the highway departments can get out there and do things,” said Black.
There could still be confusion for motorists traveling across state lines into Ohio or Kentucky. Boone County, Kentucky and Hamilton County, Ohio each remain on a numbered one through three travel advisory system according to their websites.
Black pointed citizens to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website, www.in.gov/dhs, to find an updated map showing what travel emergency level each Indiana county is currently under.