‘It’s a powerless feeling’: Troopers describe being hit, urge drivers to slow down in inclement weather

Southern Utah

NEW HARMONY (ABC4 News) – Recent winter storms have caused accidents and traffic problems across the state. More than 660 vehicles crashed in Utah so far in December, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. That averages to about 50 crashes each day for the past 13 days.

Troopers want to remind all drivers to slow down, increase following distance, and watch for emergency vehicles. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Sgt. Jesse Williams said UHP lost 10 trooper patrol cars.

“It was still snowing heavily and people were going 80, 83 miles per hour, and that’s just too fast,” Williams said. “I know the speed limit says 80, but that’s not a challenge.”

Williams said he and dozens of other troopers came close to getting hit.

“I saw a semi coming towards me that lost control and as this trailer went by it didn’t miss me by a whole lot, and it’s a powerless feeling.” Williams added. “Gosh, you know, I hope that nobody ever has to feel it.”

Drivers in Southern Utah said they’re having a hard time seeing the reflective travel lanes in the rain and snow, especially when salt and dirt accumulate on the roads, and added that cars tend to tear down the pavement markers.

“Something needs to be done with them,” driver Carol Bales said. “They need to be made stronger or made durable so the cars when they drive over them they last longer.”

According to the Utah Department of Transportation, engineers use round glass beads embedded in the paint to make the travel lanes striping reflective and are looking to increase the width of that striping from four to six inches. On I-15 starting at mile post 22 going north, maintenance crews are in the process of adding recessed pavement markers flush to the ground so snow plows won’t tear them out.

But UHP wants to remind drivers that UDOT isn’t at fault for all these crashes: drivers have been going way too fast in inclement weather.

“We all have the same goals in mind. We all want to get to where we’re going,” Williams said.”When I show my family pictures of skid marks that go around our patrol cars and things like that, they just can’t believe how close it is sometimes that we don’t get hit.”

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