Slushy roads trigger rollovers, slide-offs and crashes; tips to stay safe

SUV sustained frontal damage when it struck a pickup truck on I-15, Beaver County, May 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH — Nearly 20 crashes were reported along Interstate 15 during three separate weather events that descended upon the region Wednesday; a few tips can increase safety for inclement weather, particularly when it strikes without warning.

Dodge pickup truck is struck from the rear after pulling over to help a motorist during hailstorm, Beaver County May 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

The first cycle of crashes began just before 10 a.m. on I-15 near mile marker 101 and affected travel on both sides of the interstate where multiple vehicles scattered the landscape after either sliding or rolling off of the roadway, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. David Bairett said.

Five hours later several more crashes were reported on the interstate, most of which occurred between mile marker 93 and 102, the trooper said.

Multiple vehicles “slid off, ran into each other and crashed into guardrails, cable barriers and so on,” he said.

“The second set of crashes was pretty much the same thing, where another hailstorm came through and left slush on the road.”

SUV sustained significant frontal damage when it struck a pickup truck on I-15 in Beaver County, May 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Just as officers were clearing the vehicles and debris from the roadway, a third series of crashes came through and troopers were dispatched north to mile marker 107.

Within minutes troopers were covering crashes farther south; the close succession of wrecks occurred between mile marker 101 and 107, Bairett said.

One of the crashes involved an SUV that slid into the back of a truck that had pulled over to help another motorist after a crash.

“We had several more rollovers and vehicles off of the roadway during that period, and all three were weather ”

In all, a “few” individuals were transported to the hospital with only minor injuries, Bairett said.

He said that a layer of slush, not ice, covered the interstate when each cycle of crashes occurred, which is a phenomena that occurs every spring, he said.

First, it starts to rain, which cools everything down and is followed by hail that mixes with the rain and turns into slush, “which in my opinion is worse than ice, particularly at high speeds, because it pulls you in, and can cause you to lose control of the car,” he said.

It is best to avoid driving in icy or slushy conditions, but when that’s not an option, the following tips can help keep motorists safe, provided by Consumer Reports. 

Winter driving safety tips

  • Thoroughly scrape windows and brush snow off of the entire car, as visibility is critical.
  • When starting out on slippery roads, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin.
  • Reduce speed to lessen the likelihood of a skid
  • Avoid sudden inputs to steering, gas or brakes.
  • Allow four seconds of stopping distance between vehicles.
  • Don’t pump the brakes, let the antilock brakes do the work.
  • Four- or all-wheel drive helps during accelerations, but is less effective when stopping or turning.
  • Equip vehicle with winter tires to improve traction.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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