WILLIAMSON - With the recent frigid temperatures, snow and ice that has creeped up on the Tug Valley area, several traffic accidents have occurred in Mingo and Logan counties in West Virginia and Pike County. Ky., which included fatalities and serious injuries.
With that thought in mind, Mingo County Sheriff James Smith spoke to the Williamson Daily News with a request to encourage the public to drive with extreme caution, and to use common sense while on the highways.
“First and foremost - if you don’t have to be on the road, stay home,” the sheriff said. “There is no reason to endanger your own life or that of others when you don’t have to.”
The sheriff expressed his condolences to the family of the victim who was killed in an accident that occurred on U.S. Highway 119 on Thursday, as well as the parties in the second vehicle who were also injured, and said that he was sure the deceased did not realize the bridge she wrecked on was coated with black ice which takes on the appearance of a wet road.
“So many people have wrecked after losing control of their vehicle when they hit a section of the road covered by black ice,” said Smith. “The road simply looks wet, but it is, in fact, nothing but a sheet of ice. When responding to these wrecks, it’s everything an officer or first responders can do to stand on their feet and maintain their balance without falling. Remember that bridges freeze before highways, so you have to be extra careful when you approach them.”
The sheriff said that speed plays a factor in a large percentage of accidents, and that when any weather condition has a possibility of affecting the safety of the roads, extreme caution needs to be exercised and that begins with decreased speeds.
“Hard rain, snow, wind, ice and fog can all create an unsafe driving scenario,” Smith said. “Anytime your visibility is decreased, you need to drive slow. You are not not only looking out for yourself, but also for the other drivers traveling the roadway.”
“It’s a great idea to have items stored inside your car in case you break down or are stranded,” the sheriff reminded motorists. “Blankets, water, road flares and flashlights are necessities. Cat litter is also good to have on hand to scatter under your tires to get traction on a slick surface. If you are operating a vehicle that is light in the rear end such as a pickup truck, it’s smart to weigh it down with items such as cinder blocks.”
The sheriff also advised keeping vehicles well maintained, and expressed the importance of having the battery checked to help prevent breaddowns. Good tread on your tires is also extremely important. The more worn your tires are, the greater your chances are of losing traction on slick roads and wrecking.
“If drivers follow the rules of the road and apply common sense while behind the wheel, they will lessen their chances of being in an accident,” the sheriff said. “Accidents are going to happen … that’s a fact of life. Just about everyone you talk to has been involved in a collision sometime in their life, but we want to reduce those numbers. It’s important to me and all my officers that the citizens of Mingo County remain safe while driving, as well as others who visit or work here.”
The sheriff also reminded the public that if they witness someone driving in a reckless manner on the road that is endangering the safety of others, to call 911 and give a description of the vehicle, its location and license plate number if possible.
“Who knows?” said Smith. “The life you save could be your own.”