UHP responds to numerous accidents during winter storm

A stock image shows a Utah Highway Patrol vehicle on a highway in Southern Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Another winter storm hit Iron County and parts of Washington County early Sunday, rendering roads too dangerous to drive on and causing numerous accidents.

Kolob Canyon, Springdale, Utah, Dec. 15, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park Service, St. George News , Cedar City News

Utah Highway Patrol found themselves spread thin as Southern Utah troopers responded to five separate incidents on Interstate 15 from mile marker 40 to milepost 69.

Trooper Tara Wahlberg told St. George News when inclement weather hits, more troopers are patrolling the roads to ensure everyone is safe. Furthermore, troopers are cracking down on drivers caught speeding, especially when the pavement is icy or wet.

Overall, Wahlberg said troopers are asking drivers to slow down and increase their traveling distance as it takes about double the distance for cars to come to a complete stop in rainy or snowy conditions.

“No matter what kind of car you’re in, just make sure you slow down and increase that following distance,” she said.

Before leaving their houses or entering the interstate, drivers should be conducting regular inspections of their vehicles to ensure all lights are working and their tires are not flat, Wahlberg said.

Drivers also need to ensure they are clearing away ice from their windows and snow from the top of their vehicles before beginning their commute.

Before entering areas where there has been heavy snowfall, like Kolob Canyon, drivers should make sure they have properly attached snow chains or sleeves to their wheels, she said. However, chains and sleeves should not deter drivers from abiding by road closures. The Zion National Park Service also announced the closure of roads in and out of Kolob Canyon due to heavy snowfall.

If, despite all of the precautions, a driver does find themselves in a collision, slide off or rollover on the interstate, Wahlberg said the best way to ensure the safety of the drivers involved and other motorists is to get out of the way of traffic.

A state trooper near Panguitch, Utah, Nov. 21, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

“If you can move off to the next exit and then call us, that’s definitely ideal,” she said. “Usually, if one slide off happens, another one is going to follow. Get out of the way, get off to the next exit, that would be great.”

If the vehicles are disabled or unable to get off at the next exit, the best thing to do is move off to the side of the road. All drivers and passengers involved should remain in their vehicles with their seat belts on, she said, for the safety of everyone involved.

Drivers can also maneuver their cars so the passenger side is closest to traffic, Wahlberg said, ensuring that — in the event that another car collides with the vehicle while it is parked on the side of the interstate — the side of the vehicle where no one is sitting will be hit.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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