Bad weather causes multiple crashes; law enforcement offers safety reminders

File photo from 2016: The Utah Highway Patrol responded to a series of crashes on I-15 after morning rain. This collision was at milepost 15 south of Exit 16 into Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 21, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – A winter storm that caused several minor vehicle crashes around Cedar City Monday provided a good reminder for drivers to slow down, among other tips for winter driving.

According to the Cedar City Police Department, there were 12 wrecks reported throughout the day. All of them were related to the snowstorm, Sgt. Jerry Womack said, and involved single vehicles that slid off the road. There were no injuries reported.

Likewise, the Utah Highway Patrol also reported a handful of slide-offs Monday evening on Interstate 15. None of them were major crashes, and there were no injuries reported, UHP Sgt. Ryan Bauer said.

“The plows did a really good job of keeping the roads clear last night and yesterday morning,” Bauer said. “I stayed late with the guys last night just in case we had some major issues because of the storm, but we were lucky and there wasn’t anything big that happened.”

Speed is the number one reason for most crashes during winter storms; following too closely is the second. Authorities advise drivers to slow down and make sure they have enough distance between them and another vehicle.

Bauer and Womack both said they also see many wrecks involving four-wheel drive vehicles. Newer vehicles that offer multiple safety features, including traction control, give drivers a false sense of security that they’re safer than they really are, Bauer said. However, when it comes to ice, none of that matters.

People think that when they have four-wheel drives and all those safety mechanisms they can go faster because they’re safer, and the fact is, it doesn’t matter when you hit ice,” Bauer said. “There is nothing worse than when you hit ice and you are out of control of your vehicle. That is the worst feeling, and then you realize that it doesn’t matter. Anyone can slide in ice, anyone.”

Drivers also often underestimate the road conditions, Womack said, not realizing that there may be black ice, Womack said.

“You don’t see black ice,” Womack said. “That’s what makes it so dangerous. People don’t realize as they’re driving that the road underneath their wheels may be frozen. It’s especially dangerous when you have a winter storm that hits, melts and then it rains, freezes and then snows again like last night.”

Slush is another factor that many drivers don’t recognize can be dangerous.

If drivers find themselves sliding, police recommend not slamming on the brakes or trying to turn the steering wheel out of the slide. Both of these will make the situation worse.

Authorities also ask that drivers please remember to slow down and to factor in weather conditions when determining the distance between vehicles.

“Don’t be in such a hurry to get where you’re going,” Womack said. “Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be.”

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Proud Rebel January 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    But officer, the speed limit sign says 80! So it must be OK to drive 80, right? smh

    • comments January 24, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Utah drivers handbook states: when encountering snow and ice –Put your faith in THE LORD and DRIVE LIKE HELL.

      • .... January 25, 2017 at 8:32 am

        Well if you don’t like the way they drive around here feel free to leave

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