Ice on the roadway cause of two accidents
By Robin Scott
Along with the rain and cold weather last weekend came ice, which became the reason for two motor vehicle accidents on Highway 54 West. The two accidents involved ice which covered bridges in Hartley County. The accidents are a reminder that winter weather is fast approaching and drivers should take the time to refresh their defensive driving safety skills before winter is in full swing.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Les Jones was dispatched to an accident on Highway 54 West when he became an accident victim himself. He was crossing the bridge just outside of Dalhart when his squad car hit a patch of ice and spun out of control. Fortunately Jones was not injured in the accident, and the discovery of the ice prompted the Texas Department of Transportation to swing into action and sand area bridges.
Dalhart Fire Chief Curtis Brown noted on Tuesday, “It’s only October but any freezing temperatures along with precipitation may produce ice so drivers need to be aware of the hazards.” Louis Gallegos, Maintenance, TxDot Dalhart, stated that crews regularly check road conditions and look for potential hazards. Last Saturday crews from the Dalhart TxDot location sanded roads in Dallam County while crews from the Channing TxDot location sanded roads in Hartley County. Gallegos noted, “Ice was discovered, mostly on bridges. Our crews went all the way into Texline and sanded some intersections there also.”
DPS offers winter driving safety tips that drivers should familiarize themselves with, which include always wearing a seatbelt and driving carefully. They note it is best to avoid travel when the roadways are snowy or icy. Stranded motorists can call the DPS help line at 1-800-525-5555 for assistance from a DPS trooper or appropriate emergency service. Before traveling visit the DPS website for road and travel conditions.
An important reminder is that ice forms first on bridges, overpasses and shady
areas as both accidents last Saturday demonstrated. If a patch of ice is hit the driver should not slam on breaks but decelerate slowly, holding the car steady. Breaking only causes the vehicle to skid. Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles is also key to avoiding a collision. Drivers should plan to adjust their speed to suit the road conditions.
If a vehicle goes into a skid, the driver should take their foot off of the gas pedal without appling the brakes, and steer the vehicle in the direction needed. As the car straightens out the vehicle will regain traction. If the brakes must be used then the driver should tap the breaks only to decelerate.
Keeping an eye on the vehicle’s battery is also important because battery power decreases in cold weather. It is a good idea to keep winter items in the vehicle at all times such as blankets, ice scraper, gloves, tire chains and food. Also the vehicle should always be equipped with a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, water and maps. The gas tank should be kept relatively full to avoid getting condensation inside the tank. All of the vehicle’s fluids should also be maintained.
For more information visit the Texas Department of Public Transportation online at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/travel/road_conditions.htm.