During the summer TxDot's tanker trucks are used to spread herbicide but in the winter they do double-duty as de-icing trucks. They spread magnesium chloride to keep drivers from sliding and skidding. The Houston district has a total of 32 trucks. They're used to de-ice bridges and overpasses in a six-county area.
"We don't do it on the main lanes, because the main lanes don't tend to ice over. It's your more elevated structures that will ice and that's why we try to strictly use those. Plus, it's a more efficient use of the materials."
TxDot's Karen Othon says what makes winter weather in Houston even more serious is that we don't get it very often and drivers may find themselves unprepared. She says Houstonians should take advantage of the warm days to prepare their vehicles for a possible icy blast.
"Make sure that all the cables are connected. Make sure that you have plenty of fluids. Make sure that you have proper equipment inside your vehicle for when we do have inclement weather."
But Othon says the best thing for Houstonians to do when the roads get icy is to stay home.
"We don't drive on snow and ice. You know, we're not used to it and especially ice on the bridges and overpasses. It's just not safe. So we just say, don't get out on the roads if you don't have to."
TxDot says Houston District crews applied about 40,000 gallons of magnesium chloride during the severe weather we had last winter. For winter driving tips, visit TxDot's safety tips for winter driving.