Weather-related Car Accidents Spike Over Weekend

Over the snowy weekend, the Gillette Police Department (GPD) was busy responding to 14 weather-related accidents, according to GPD Detective Sgt. Eric Dearcorn. Several car crashes were reported, including one that up-ended a fire hydrant and a hit-and-run involving a fence.

Out of the 14, only one accident resulted in injury, which occurred at approximately 9:10 p.m. Saturday evening at the intersection of Boxelder and Butler Spaeth roads, when a 17-year-old male driving a Dodge passenger vehicle slid through a red light due to slick, icy roads. Unable to maintain control, the teen’s vehicle rammed into the back of a Chevy passenger car driven by a 52-year-old female, causing her to smash into the back of a pickup driven by a 49-year-old male.

The 52-year-old female was transported to Campbell County Health for neck and back pain, where she was treated and later released. Although both the teen and the driver of the pickup were uninjured, Dearcorn estimated damages to the vehicles at approximately $1,000, and the teen was issued a citation for driving “too fast for conditions.”

Driving too fast for conditions constitutes exceeding a “reasonable standard” for safe driving, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In other words, when the existing road conditions are such that the posted speed limit is too high, and therefore no longer valid, it’s expected that drivers adjust their speed accordingly.

“When the roads have been slick, our crashes go down,” Dearcorn said. “But as soon as we go back to dry roads and then they get slick again…it’ll skyrocket. It’s like people don’t remember 24 hours ago when the roads were slick.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), out of the nearly six million vehicular accidents that occur in the U.S. each year, approximately 22 percent are weather-related.

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Here are some road conditions that may demand a speed lower than that which is posted:

  • Wet, icy or snow-packed roads
  • Reduced visibility due to fog, mist, rain, snow, etc.
  • Uneven roads or loose pavement
  • Sharp curves

When driving a large truck, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommends:

  • Reducing speed by a third when roads are wet
  • Reducing speed by half on snow-packed roads

No matter the vehicle size, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) recommends following these snow safety tips:

  • Bridges usually freeze first, so be extra careful on bridges
  • Slow down, it’s more difficult to see – and react – when driving in poor weather
  • Keep all lights free of ice and snow for heightened visibility
  • Use low beams when driving through blowing snow
  • Make sure all windows and mirrors are clear before starting a trip
  • Clean snow off shoes before getting in the car, because slippery accelerator and brake pedals are a safety hazard
  • Adjust speed for road conditions

Learn more about how to adapt driving to road and travel conditions, here.

For up-to-date road conditions in Gillette, visit wyoroad.info.com.