Accidents on Icy Bridges in Virginia Cause Deaths and Injuries
When temperatures fall, wrecks increase in Virginia. Freezing temperatures caused accidents on icy bridges across Virginia over the weekend of January 12 as drivers failed to respond to hazardous winter conditions.
State troopers responded to 324 traffic crashes and 196 disabled vehicles throughout the state as a winter storm hit. Many drivers struggled to cope with ice on bridges. Tragically, a 16-year-old passenger lost his life early Sunday morning in a crash on Kress Road in Brunswick County when the driver encountered ice. The wreck highlights the dangers of failing to slow down on icy roads.
Virginia State Police said a driver who was also 16 was crossing the bridge in a Dodge Ram pickup. Freezing temperatures caused the bridge to ice over.
Virginia State Police reported the pickup was “traveling at a high rate of speed.” The driver lost control, ran off the highway, and hit a tree.
Medics transported the teen driver to VCU Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. A 16-year-old male passenger from Alberta, Virginia died at the crash scene.
State police said speed and alcohol were contributing factors to the crash. Neither teenager was wearing a seat belt in the pickup. Charges are pending against the 16-year-old driver, reported CBS 6.
Bridges and overpasses freeze over first during sub-zero weather due to cold air below the roadway.
Hampton Roads has scores of bridges over water such as the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. Black ice can form on these bridges. However, drivers often face even greater risks on smaller bridges that are untreated in the winter.
In December 2018, Virginia State Police reported numerous crashes on icy roads on the Virginia Peninsula in Newport News, Hampton, and further north.
Just before 4 a.m., on Dec. 6, ice was linked to a fatal crash on I-64 eastbound near Settler’s Landing Road in Hampton. Four other wrecks occurred in the same place as the mercury hit 30 degrees.
The U.S. 17 Coleman Bridge heading into Gloucester County was partially blocked after a crash just after 6 a.m., likely caused by ice. A Chevrolet pickup truck pulling a boat jackknifed, knocking the vessel off a trailer. The pavement temperature on the bridge was a mere 28 degrees at 7:40 a.m., VDOT reported.
Accidents on icy bridges in Virginia are common in January and February. Bridges are exposed to air on all of their surfaces – the top, underneath, and on the sides. In contrast, only the top surface of other roads are exposed and the ground below can remain warmer. When temperatures plummet, bridges will cool and gather ice and snow at a faster rate than roadways on solid ground.
Drivers are often caught out by ice on a bridge. They may not even realize they are traveling on a bridge and can be going at full speed because the surrounding roadways appear to be clear.
Often they lose control suddenly and dramatically. Slamming on the brakes causes the vehicle to skid across the icy road.
To avoid accidents on icy bridges in Virginia drivers should:
- Monitor the weather before going out. Check the temperatures and the Virginia 511 traffic conditions website.
- If temperatures are at or below freezing point be aware of all bridges and overpasses on your route;
- Pay attention to signs that state bridges and overpasses freeze first;
- Moderate your speed during any cold or icy road conditions;
- Use main roads and interstates when possible;
- Be aware of ice hazards on overpasses and ramps onto main roads;
- Gradually apply your brakes to keep your speed under control;
- Don’t power up hills but avoid stopping on inclines;
- Don’t tailgate.
You can avoid accidents on icy bridges in Virginia. Don’t drive unless it’s really necessary. If you find yourself on freezing roads, exercise defensive driving. Give yourself plenty of distance behind the car in front of you and maintain a slow but steady speed. Avoid sudden or sharp turns or bursts of acceleration.
Most importantly, reduce speed on bridges and overpasses where black ice may be present.
Take care in wintery conditions and see our Hampton Roads cold weather driving tips. If a driver who failed to slow down in slippery conditions hit and hurt you or a family member, please call our Norfolk personal injury team today at (757) 231-6288. temperature