‘No safe way to travel in icy conditions:’ VDOT warns against driving today

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Department of Transportation and AAA are warning drivers to stay off the roads in Central Virginia on Saturday while an ice storm sweeps through the area.

VDOT was able to clear roads Friday after snow fell Thursday night into Friday morning but cleaning up from the ice storm won’t be as easy. Roads on Friday were wet and slippery which VDOT addressed by adding salt to melt ice and sand to enhance traction.

Roads on Saturday are projected to be covered in ice which proves more difficult to remove.

“There is no safe way to travel in icy conditions,” said Sean Nelson, Richmond District Maintenance Engineer. “Ice on roads can be harder to clear and we ask for patience and room to get in and get the roads safe and passable as quickly as possible.”

AAA warns that drivers with cars better equipped for bad weather will not be immune to the hazards caused by icy roads.

“Ice is slippery no matter how good your tires are and even with four-wheel drive,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic affairs representative Morgan Dean.

Dean uses the tragic and terrifying crash that happened in Texas this week as a reminder for Virginians to use caution and avoid driving. Six people died in the crash and over 130 cars piled up on the interstate in Fort Worth, Texas for hours.

Here in Central Virginia, 8News has received reports of an overturned truck, a jackknifed double tractor-trailer, spin outs and ice covered roads. With more headed our way, the incidents could just get worse and more frequent.

Two local residents tell 8News they are afraid of the weather and give their own tips on how to stay safe.

“You can’t see it, so it’s slippery,” Shamia Walker said “I’m scared of that.”

Antoine Anderson says drivers should drive the speed limit and stay off their phones to avoid accidents.

Another Richmond driver who braved the roads on Friday shares his regrets. Terrance Ervin says he ran off the road on Interstate 295.

“Once you get in the house, don’t come back out because the roads are slick, man, you don’t want to get stuck in the ditch,” Ervin said.

Drivers are advised to prepare for the worst by making sure their cars are properly maintained and packing emergency kits in case of stranding.

If you cannot avoid driving during or after the ice storm AAA gives the following checklist to help ensure driver safety:

  • check your vehicle’s battery, lights, brakes, tires, exhaust system and windshield wipers
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and don’t let your car idle inside your garage or with your windows closed for too long
  • Clear windows, mirrors and lights of snow and ice. Double check no-freeze windshield wiper fluid
  • Clear snow and ice off of your entire care
  • Give yourself extra time to get from place to place
  • Increase following distance while driving
  • Be mindful of places like bridges that freeze faster than roads
  • Watch out for black ice
  • Avoid abruptly braking
  • Avoid changing lanes
  • Use major roads instead of back roads
  • Dress warm in preparation for being stranded, have blankets for yourself and passengers
  • Pack an emergency kit

In addition to ice on the roads, be mindful of where you park your vehicle as ice storms can cause trees to fall. Downed trees can also effect traffic patterns, secondary roads can have much more issues like uncleared ice and fallen limbs to be aware of.

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