Bad weather causing loads of crashes, more expected

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-16 18:16:05-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Here in Central Virginia, we’ve been without sunshine for days.  According to data from the Virginia State Police, the inclement weather has brought with it many vehicle crashes.

Over the past three days, troopers in the extended metro-area have responded to nearly 150 reported motor vehicle crashes. The data is from midnight Monday Jan. 14 through 2:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. [BONUS: Click here for the latest forecast from the CBS 6 Storm Team]

As the inclement weather continues and the forecasted precipitation is expected to change from rain to snow and/or ice, Virginia State Police are reminding motorists to drive safely by slowing down and driving at speeds based on the conditions of the roadway.

Driving Tips (from VSP and VDOT):

  • Leave early and allow yourself extra time to get to your destination
  • Obey all the traffic laws and buckle up
  • Slow Down – The posted speed limit is for driving during prime road conditions
  • Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges
  • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road
  • Increase your following distance and brake earlier.  A wet surface increases your stopping distance
  • Never drive through standing or high water
  • Turn your headlights on during inclement weather.  This increases your visibility.
  • If your windshield wipers are not on the intermittent cycle, then you must have your headlights on.
  • If you feel your vehicle hydroplane, let your foot off the gas and steer straight until you regain control.  Do not slam on your brakes.
  • Always drive distraction free
  • Check road conditions before they leave home by calling 511 or logging in to

If you are involved in a crash, you can dial #77 from your cell phone.  This call will go directly to a Virginia State Police Communications Center.  When you call, the dispatcher will ask for your location, so it is important to know your route of travel to expedite our response time to your call for service.

VDOT crews across the state have geared up their snowplows, checked salt and sand supplies and have begun full preparations for the anticipated winter weather.

Accumulation is expected during the day Thursday with higher totals in the western part of the state. Significantly lower snow totals are anticipated in the eastern part of the state. Motorists are encouraged to drive with caution as rain is expected to turn to snow throughout the day Thursday.

Extra VDOT tips:

Do NOT Travel During Winter Storms

  • Avoid unnecessary travel. If it is not a life safety issue, stay off the roads.
  • The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. About 70 percent of deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.
  • Stay at the office an extra hour, or leave early, to avoid travel during a winter storm.
  • If residents stay off the roads during a storm, transportation workers and public safety officials are better able to clear roadways and respond to emergency needs quicker.

Weather Changes Quickly

  • Be prepared for the worst. Be ready to spend an extra hour at the office, or leave an hour or two early, to avoid a more time consuming commute home during the height of a storm.
  • Have an emergency supply kit in your office and car.

Listen to Local Officials

  • If local officials advise residents to stay off the roads – then stay off the roads.
  • Public safety and emergency management officials, along with National Weather Service meteorologists, base travel advisories and guidance on weather forecasts. Heed their advice!
  • Businesses that follow closing/delay policies from local jurisdictions or the federal Office of Personnel Management need to monitor those sources and release employees when advised.

Monitor the Weather

  • Listen to local radio/TV weather forecasts; monitor social media.
  • Sign up for text alerts from your local government.
  • Sign up for weather alerts from NOAA/National Weather Service, including RSS feeds of your forecast and weather watches/warnings.
  • Purchase a NOAA weather radio for your home and office. NOAA Weather Radio is the prime alerting and critical information delivery system of the National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

Stuck In a Car or Truck

If a blizzard traps you in the car, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers:
  • Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
  • Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
  • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. Vigorously move your arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
  • In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs – the use of lights, heat, and radio – with supply.
  • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
  • If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
  • Leave the car and proceed on foot – if necessary – once the blizzard passes.