Winter Conditions Force UHP to Close Sr-10, Major Routes
|Carbon County residents may check on winter road conditions 24 hours a day by dialing 511 or by visiting the UDOT website for text information. |
Utah State Road 10 in Castle Valley became a parking lot Monday as local motorists experienced white-out conditions that completely halted traffic in both directions.
"We were forced to close Interstate 70 from Salina to Green River, SR-10 south of Emery and U.S. Highway 6 from Helper to Soldier Summit," said Utah Highway Patrol Lt. David Bennion. "That is the first time in my memory that we have had to close all three of our major routes due to weather."
According to Bennion, the intermittent white-out conditions brought on by high winds created one-foot snowdrifts and dropped the visibility to zero on the highways.
"It wasn't the snowfall, but the harsh winds that caused us the problems," said Bennion. "We had to halt the traffic to allow emergency vehicles to zig-zag their way to injured motorists."
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration indicates that driving in snow and ice can be one of the most hazardous conditions to travel in.
The administration recommend taking additional preparations in the event of an accident or emergency.
The federal agency's website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov provides an envelope size portable file document that can be kept inside the vehicle during winter months.
The document stresses the three Ps of safety.
Prepare - Carbon County residents should maintain motor vehicles.
People should check the battery and tire tread as well as keep the vehicle's windows clear.
Drivers should put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir.
Motorists should frequently check the antifreeze.
Travelers should have a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material like sand, kitty litter or floor mats, a shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, warning devices like flares, blankets and a cell phone on hand.
If stopped or stalled, people should stay inside the vehicle and avoid overexertion.
Bright markers should be attached to the antenna or window while shining the dome light.
Additionally, while running the car for warmth make, stranded travelers should make sure the exhaust pipe is clean and run the vehicle just enough to stay warm while saving fuel.
"It is a good idea to keep extra food and water in the car as well," said Bennion. "You never know how long you could be stopped during a storm. Some of the motorists were stuck for more than two hours on Monday."
Carbon County residents should plan trips, allow plenty of time and be familiar with the route to be taken.
Also motorists, should inform family of an estimated departure and arrival time.
The national site also encourages individuals to practice winter driving by:
Rehearsing maneuvers slowly on the ice ore snow in an empty lot.
Steering into a skid.
Knowing the capability of a cars brakes.
Drivers should pump non-antilock, but stomp on antilock brakes.
Don't idle for a long time with the windows up in an enclosed space.
Know that stopping distances are longer on icy roads.
"Make sure you leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you in icy conditions - enough to move over if you can't get stopped," advised Bennion.
Local residents should follow several safety precautions. Motorists should:
Buckle up and use child safety seats properly.
Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag.
Sit at least 10 inches from an air bag.
Remember that drugs and alcohol never mix with diving a motor vehicle.
Slow down and increase distances between cars.
Watch carefully for pedestrians.
Avoid fatigue and get plenty of rest before a trip.
Rotate drivers on long trips of possible.
According to Bennion, it is always best to check road conditions before hitting the road during the dangerous winter months.
The Utah Department of Transportation has a 24-hour road condition information line that may be accessed anywhere in the state by dialing 511.
"We really encourage people to use 511," said Jennifer Stefanoff of Carbon County Public Safety Dispatch. "But we make sure to answer all questions the public may have for us when they call. Also we never can advise whether or not the road is safe, that is their decision, we can only alert a caller to the conditions."
Motorists can also view conditions online at UDOT's website.
Road conditions on the site are reported by UDOT snowplow operators. Reports on the site are updated daily before 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as well as any time there is a change in weather conditions.
"If you find that there is a possibility of white out conditions or heavy snowfall, it is a really good idea to stay home unless faced with a major emergency," concluded Bennion. "The dangers in that kind of weather are limitless."