Snow days are no fun for officers

Posted at 1:57 PM, Jan 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-18 13:57:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- When winter weather hits, traffic accidents are soon to follow.

Vehicle damage or injury is likely outcomes for the driver, but what about the people tasked with responding to these scenes?

“I don’t like snow days because of accidents,” Officer Karen Spencer, a patrol officer for the Richmond Police Department’s 2nd Precinct, said.

Spencer has been on patrol for more than 11 years, and has seen many an icy day. She says the majority of her calls during snowy conditions are for traffic accidents that were preventable.

Too many drivers to not heed widely recognized safety precautions while on a slick or icy road says Spencer. Speeding, failure to clean off windshields, and driving too close to other vehicles all lead to accidents when roadways become hazardous she says.

“They’re usual very apologetic, and realize they’re going too fast for the conditions,” Spencer said about the drivers she speaks with after wrecking their car. “We tell them this is a learning experience from now on. When the weather is like this, you know firsthand; you need to slow down and be more careful".

Spencer is a self-proclaimed cautious driver, even in good weather, so she says one of her focuses on snowy days is to make sure she responds to scenes safely.

On a wintry day like Friday, each police precinct in the city has 15-20 officers patrolling during the day, according the Spencer. She says this number is a mix of regular patrol officers and traffic officers.

Her main message for drivers who have to hit the roads during winter weather: slow down.

“Give yourself plenty of time to get to work,” Spencer said. “If you have to get up an hour early, get up an hour early. Take your time.”

A warning many in Central Virginia do not listen to enough.