OHP says stay aware while driving in winter weather

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:53 PM CST
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - In Oklahoma roads have been getting slicker and slicker since Monday morning.

Eric Foster with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said they see more wrecks after the sleet and snow stop, as drivers stop being cautious when the snow stops falling.

“After it falls from the sky people forget that it’s still there on the ground so really have to pay attention and slow down,” Foster said.

ODOT reported slick spots and slow traffic on I-35 from Ardmore down to Texas Monday evening.

Around 15 cars piled up in several smaller crashes in that area Monday morning.

“There were several crashes there together,” Foster said. “One created lots of other ones. And that is common.”

If drivers do get in a wreck, Foster said OHP recommends staying inside the car.

“It is not wise to get out of your vehicle,” Foster said. “To take pictures of your car, things like that. Listen - troopers can put that entire crash together, we’re trained to do it. We don’t need evidence of that. Your insurance adjuster they don’t need that. Now it’s helpful, but do that after it’s off a moving roadway. Do not get out of your vehicle, keep that metal around you.”

But most crashes they work during winter weather are just one car, often rolling over, and getting stuck in snow or a ditch.

“In events like this [it happens] all the time,” Foster. “I think about 90 percent of the state is rural and in areas where there’s not a lot of travel.”

Foster said no matter how fast you’re going, wear your seatbelt.

“These slow-speed crashes are literally no injuries just property damage,” Foster said. “But if you’re not strapped in you could be thrown around inside the passenger compartment or outside of the vehicle and the vehicle could roll on top of you. And we see a lot of that across the state. Slow speed, serious injury or fatality only because someone didn’t put their seatbelt on.”

January 31st marks 8 years since the death of trooper Nicholas Dees, who was killed by a driver who was texting.

Foster asks that drivers stay off their phones while driving.

“It’s situations like this where you need full time and attention to driving really amplify now,” Foster said. “Because when you’re paying attention you can’t bring your car to a safe stop but think about if your eyes are averted. Or somebody’s crashed on the side of the road and you’re taking pictures of that crash or whatever. You’re not paying attention to a first responder walking on the roadway- that is something that doesn’t need to happen.”