Crashes spike as drivers negotiate winter roads
February 10, 2008
Hulking snow berms, speed and careless driving decisions have led to a recent rash of local car crashes, local officials say. Over a dozen accidents have occurred within the last week and police are narrowing down the dangerous areas where the collisions are starting to mount.Northwoods Boulevard particularly near Hansel Avenue can be one of the most accident-prone driving sections in Truckee, according to Truckee Police Sgt. Jason Litchie.In the winter, that is our highest collision zone, and averages there are definitely above the norm, Litchie said. Litchie said the area between Northwoods and Highway 89 South entrance on Donner Pass Road also has a high rate of accidents.We work that area pretty hard because we are trying to reduce the collision rates, but its also the busiest area in town, he said. When you have that kind of heavy traffic flow in one area, crashes are almost inevitable.Litchie said thanks to a $315,000 state public safety grant received in November, the Truckee Police Department has hired a new traffic enforcement officer to help reduce the number of accidents.While some area residents have attributed the high snow berms generated by recent storms to high collision rates, Litchie said the berms are not to blame.Its the drivers error because people dont bother to look as carefully or pull out as slowly as they should, he said. Sometimes they do obstruct a drivers vision, but thats part of living up here and if people dont take the care when they start to nudge out, theyre putting themselves at greater risk.Truckee Police Lt. Harwood Mitchell said driving too fast for conditions is the primary collision factor, with 35 percent of local accidents related to speed.When we do have cold conditions and there is ice on the roadways, people need to be [conscious of] how fast theyre going, Mitchell said. During these conditions, the prevailing safe speed could be zero at some points.