How to reduce winter accidents in Grand County: Just slow down
Many drivers are caught by surprise during the winter in Grand County, Colorado, and end up in a vehicle accident. Icy and snow-packed roads require better planning and a slower, more thoughtful approach if the destination is to be reached safely.
Cindy Callihan, nurse manager for Kremmling Memorial Hospital, wishes she could post billboards throughout the county with a direct reminder and a simple request: “We do not want to see you in our ER. Slow down!”
Hurried winter drivers might find themselves stranded in the ditch, surprised by how quickly they ended up in a snow bank. Others will find themselves rolled over and looking at things upside down. Many will realize (hazily) that they are now sharing their front seat with a deer or an elk. Sadly, some will find themselves in a mangled heap of metal fused with another vehicle. In the worst-case scenario they won’t realize what happened at all. It’s unfortunate and predictable.
More than 60 motor vehicle accident patients found themselves in the Kremmling Memorial Hospital Emergency Room during the past year. It should be no surprise that the highest occurrences (36) are between November and April, when frequent ice and snow storms occur creating dangerous road conditions ” otherwise known as winter in the Colorado Mountains.
Of the yearly total, 14 patients were stabilized and transferred to a higher level of care. The majority of these transfers (9) occurred between November and October. Some didn’t survive. Those that did will likely suffer complications of the back, neck and head forever. These stats do not include admits on the east side of the county, which are presumably much higher.
“The people who survive often tell us they were in a hurry,” said Callihan.
Remember, roads leading in and out of Grand County are two lanes, filled with curves, inclines and declines. Black ice often deceives and road markers aren’t always as clear. Leisure traffic seems to be ever increasing and those pulling trailers require special attention. In addition wildlife is often drawn near the roads in order to forage for exposed grass, adding to the danger.
It takes an alert mind to maneuver through this winter obstacle course. The biggest dangers are complacency and being in a hurry. Locals might become indifferent to the changing conditions and believe they are invincible because they have driven the road so often. This sense of security, often enhanced by four wheel drive vehicles, is false. Ice is slick no matter what vehicle is being driven and no matter how familiar the road. Visitors are certainly more apt to accidents because they are in a different driving environment.
Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock wishes people would not only slow down but also wear seat belts.
“A good portion of the people we pick up would not have died if they would have had their seat belts on,” she said. She explained that the simple act of buckling up would keep people from being thrown out of their vehicles and increase chances of survival.
For the sake of yourself, your family and other people on the road please make winter driving safety a priority. I discovered smart safety tips recommended by the Colorado Department of Transportation at http://www.dot.state.co.us.
They also have information about how to brake and what to do in case of an accident. Proper tires with proper air pressure is also key. The best prevention for avoiding an accident altogether is to just slow down.
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