The majority of winter weather deaths in the U.S. are caused by icy road accidents. While some of these accidents result from drivers’ not exercising due care in bad weather, many involve average drivers traveling at normal speeds who suddenly and unexpectedly encounter ice.Ice cannot always be easily seen, so drivers may not have advance warning of icy conditions.
Don’t Overestimate Your Driving AbilitiesA common factor in many crashes is overconfidence in personal abilities or vehicle equipment, like traction control, antilock brakes, and stability control. A slight trigger is all that is needed to start a loss-of-control sequence that no experienced driver or advanced technology can stop. It can be deadly to travel at highway speeds in ice and snow.
Even veteran drivers cannot reliably recover from a high-speed slide.
Keeping Kentucky Roads SafeIt only takes a small dusting of snow or a light drizzle of freezing rain to turn a bridge or overpass (which freeze before roadways) into a danger zone. Falling temperatures can create black ice on wet pavement. During winter weather, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews work nonstop to keep roads in the best possible condition. However, crews cannot be everywhere at once, and their main job is simply to keep roads passable during winter conditions. Salt trucks and snow plows attend to all roads in the state based on assigned priority. For example, all interstates receive top priority, with a goal of a one-hour turnaround time. When conditions allow, highways are pretreated with saltwater (brine) to help prevent the bonding of snow and ice to the pavement. When temperatures are moderately cold, salt trucks spread road salt to keep the snow from sticking to the ground. The salt reacts with the snow and “melts” it. Liquid calcium chloride can be added to the road salt to prevent sticking snow at even colder temperatures. However, it’s important to remember that freezing rain can wash away salt, so even treated roads can have icy patches and can re-ice quickly during heavier precipitation. During winter weather, conditions can change rapidly. One of the best ways to stay informed of current road conditions is by going online to visit www.Goky.ky.gov. Conditions are described as:
- Wet pavement (ice could form as temperatures drop)
- Partly covered (markings may be obscured by snow, slush, or ice)
- Mostly covered by snow, slush, or ice
- Completely covered by snow, slush, or ice
- Impassable (conditions unsuitable for all but emergency travel).