ST. GEORGE — First responders were stretched thin Monday as a winter storm that blanketed Utah’s roads in snow triggered hundreds of crashes, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
As the storm began to make its way south – dumping about 8 inches of snow on Cedar City on its way – responders in Southern Utah dealt with five major traffic incidents in a one-hour period.
Between approximately 8-9 a.m., emergency personnel from Utah Highway Patrol and Iron County Sheriff’s Office responded to three rollovers on I-15, a semi spinning out of control and jackknifing on the interstate and another rollover on state Route 56.
As of noon Monday, UHP reported none of the myriad crashes resulted in serious injury.
While responding to the approximately 300 slide-offs, rollovers and collisions, several troopers’ vehicles were hit in the chaos, prompting the public safety agency to issue tips for driving in winter weather and emergency situations.
“With these numbers … we need drivers to slow down,” UHP said in a statement.
In addition to slowing down in winter conditions, UHP said, drivers need to give themselves more time to reach their destination.
Drivers who see emergency responders and their vehicles in the road, whether they are police, firefighters, ambulance crews or wreckers, should slow down and either pull over or leave plenty of room for crews to work as they drive by.
Troopers advise those who do become involved in crashes to move their cars out of the roadway – if the vehicles involved are still safely drivable – off the next exit to a gas station or parking lot.
“It is much safer for the trooper and the parties involved to deal with a crash off the freeway than in the lanes where traffic is traveling 60-70 mph past the crash,” the statement reads. “It also opens up the lanes so traffic can flow freely, eliminating secondary crashes that are caused from the back up.”
And the mayhem may not be over yet with additional snowstorms forecast to move through parts of the state Monday night into Tuesday morning, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
Cold temperatures will also settle in across the state after Monday night, bringing the potential for patchy ice to develop on roads that remain wet from lingering snow.
The UDOT-provided map below shows areas that will continue to be affected by weather-related travel concerns Monday night through noon Tuesday, with areas of high caution indicated in red.
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