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Highway Patrol Overwhelmed by Accidents

Highway Patrol Overwhelmed by Accidents

Posted - Nov. 22, 2003 at 10:20 p.m.



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Kimberly Houk ReportingThe rapid drop in temperature is making driving dangerous in parts of Salt Lake and Utah Counties. There were close to 300 traffic accidents today on Utah's freeways, most of them happening on the south end of the valley near the point of the mountain and into Utah County.

Police scanners were going crazy today ith dispatchers directing crews to hundreds of accidents clogging freeways.

Lt. Mike Rapich, Utah Highway Patrol: “What was happening to our officers today is they are working an accident, we are working 25 more that need to be responded to."

Many drivers were caught in situations today from two car accidents, to slide-offs, to cars colliding into barricades. The rapid drop in temperatures quickly turned wet freeways into ice.

Nile Easton, UDOT: “When it gets in the low 20s or high teens, that’s when we can see the ice build up despite our best efforts.”

The freeways were salted last night, but it wasn't enough to keep the roads from freezing with today's chilly winds and sporadic snow squalls.

Officers say although there were many accidents, there were few injuries. And they want to remind drivers to slow down and increase following distances.

Many drivers did take it slow this afternoon as they hit heavy snow around the point of the mountain coming back from the big game. After today, officers are asking people to stay home if they can and not drive on days like today.

Lt. Mike Rapich, Utah Highway Patrol: "It's been really overwhelming. 260 accidents in one day is unbelieveable. That's about as bad as it gets."

It's was so overwhelming for the Highway Patrol today that they were telling people that if they were in minor fender benders and their cars were still drivable, then to not call them. Officers were not going to be able to get to them today.

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