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Science and the Environment

Fatal Accident Turns Attention to Slick Roadways

On Wednesday morning, a Springfield woman lost control of her car and crashed into a sign off of James River Freeway near Kansas Expressway. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. KSMU’s Adam Hammons asked MODOT and the Missouri State Highway Patrol what drivers can do to prevent further accidents given the wintry weather.

At just after nine in the morning the Springfield woman was driving eastbound on James River Freeway with two children in the vehicle. After passing a car and going back into the right lane, the woman lost control, went down an embankment, and hit a sign. The two children suffered minor injuries and are expected to make a full recovery.

Since then the Highway Patrol has been roaming the highways helping drivers who have gone off the side of the road. I caught Sergeant Dan Bracker with the State Highway Patrol on his cell phone just minutes after he helped a driver out of a ditch. He says drivers should take precautions before driving on the roads.

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Plan on getting where you’re going, but just in case you don’t or you slide off the road, you’ll be okay.”

Bracker says drivers should charge their cell phones, tell friends where they’re going, fill up the tank, and put a candle or blanket in the car. Also, he said drivers should remove all snow and ice from their windows and roofs before taking off.

“How many times have you been driving down the road and you see that one person that took like 30 seconds to put a little hole in the ice or scrape a little hole off their windshield and a little hole in the back. Well take time, get your car warmed up, get all the glass cleared off so you can see and drive effectively.”

Angela Eden with the Missouri Department of Transportation also says to slow down on the roads. She cautioned drivers to take turns slowly and brake slowly. Eden urges drivers to stay at least one-hundred feet behind snow plows.

“We also ask that they not try to pass them even if it’s a multi lane road. Those trucks-sometimes their blades are a little bit wider than the driving lane and so they maybe kind of stick into the lane that’s adjacent to them. So we really want drivers to be very careful when they’re working or driving around our plows.”

Eden says even though pavement can be seen on some roads, this doesn’t mean the road is clear of ice.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.