Snow

Emergency

Route.

If you drive in Washington, remember those words may cost you about $33.33 each if you ignore them during a snowstorm.

The fine for towing an illegally parked car is $50. The ticket is another $50.

District officials, burned by complaints about traffic snarls and chaos during last season's snowstorms, mean business this year. Just ask the several hundred or so people whose cars were towed during the freakish storm last month.

To make sure the capital of the Western World does not get paralyzed again, the city made some major changes during the summer, including streamlining its jumbled and outdated snow emergency routes.

(See the map accompanying this article to find out which roads may affect your driving or parking).

Streets not essential to good traffic flow for snow emergencies were eliminated from the plan, leaving residents more spaces to park in crowded Washington neighborhoods. George W. Schoene, chief of the Bureau of Traffic Services, said recently that under the old emergency route system, as many as 60,000 vehicles that normally are parked on the streets would be affected by an emergency. Under the new plan, that number was cut to 20,000.

All the old snow emergency route signs were taken down. Now, every block on the routes is supposed to have two signs on each side of the street. The signs are better quality and the chilling words "TOW AWAY" leave no doubt about intent.

Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the District's Public Works Department, said brochures defining the new routes were mailed to every District motorist. In November's unexpected snowstorm, Hamilton and other officials were frequently on radio and televsion urging motorists to take the new policy seriously.

The tow trucks do.