Virginia, along with a majority of the southeast, is getting pummeled with snow and ice. This has led to some pretty dangerous road conditions and a dramatic uptick in car accidents and serious injuries.
The morning of February 11, there were eight car wrecks on U.S. Route 460 alone, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. One of the incidences was a rollover crash where the driver actually had to be extricated from his Ford Mustang.
"The roads are slick, but the bridges are extremely slick," said Harry Cundiff, police chief in Bluefield, Virginia (VA). "People are going too fast for conditions. Normally when we have our first snowfall we have several accidents, but then people tend to wise up; but this time it seems that they see a little bit of black pavement and they think its July."
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Cundiff raises a legitimate concern about driving after a bad winter snow storm. People need to be extra vigilant and cautious when traveling. A good rule of thumb is to drive at least 10 miles below the speed limit. Don't assume that just because the snow has stopped that the roads will be in good condition. In fact, it's after the snow stops when things get really dicey. Why? Because when snow starts to melt, it re-freezes when the temperature drops and you wind up with black ice.
Black ice is probably one of the most dangerous elements of driving in winter weather. Our firm has represented clients in black ice car crashes (check out the case result here) and the injuries sustained can be very serious. The challenge with black ice is that it's virtually transparent, so by the time you realize you've encountered it, you've lost control of your car and well on your way to slamming into another car causing a serious car crash and potential injuries. This is especially true for bridges and turnpikes.
"These bridges and overpasses are slick. It doesn't take too long to freeze back over with temperatures the way they are," said S.C. Workman, a Virginia State police officer.
There's no telling when the bad winter storms will stop and given the extremely low temperatures, we'll probably have snow and ice on the roads for many weeks ahead. This means all drivers need to be on guard when traveling and take the necessary precautions - check online for road conditions and try to stay off rarely traveled side roads that may not have been plowed yet, always slow down when approaching an intersection, and keep your eyes on the road at all times. These may seem like basic safe driving guidelines - and they are - but they're even more vital when the roads are compromised during bad winter weather.