State trooper says slow down, ‘speed limit means nothing’ on icy roads

Dec 27, 2021, 5:28 PM
winter, icy...
State troopers on EB 90 at MP 47 in December 2021. (Photo courtesy of Trooper Rick Johnson/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of Trooper Rick Johnson/Twitter)

After a snowy weekend with temperatures now below freezing for the Puget Sound region, and expected to stay low for the next few days, the winter road conditions are not good for drivers.

Puget Sound region could see another round of snow by end of week

Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show with tips for these winter driving conditions, reminding everyone to take it slow if you have to be out.

At the mountain passes, Johnson says the restrictions the Washington State Department of Transportation puts in place are there “for very good reason.”

“The vehicles that can’t make it, that don’t adhere to the restrictions, they end up spinning out, blocking the roadway so the plowers can’t get through,” he said.

When chains are required to cross the passes, state patrol does enforce that rule.

“There’s no tolerance on that because these are the vehicles that end up causing the pass to close down, in reality, and we have chain enforcement set up … to make sure that people are adhering to the restrictions,” Johnson said.

While a huge amount of snow is not expected in the next couple of days, Johnson says troopers want people to know that the freeways may feel or look fine, but may not be. Roads will likely remain icy.

“The main thing that we see is people changing lanes through the slush, and overcorrecting,” he said. “So we want people, if they’re not comfortable driving in these conditions, don’t drive. And if you do, slow down. The speed limit means nothing.”

Johnson says he’s not sure how many snow plows WSDOT has running this winter, but he’s heard from troopers at the pass that they’re doing a great job at keeping the roadway clear.

“It’s just the usual thing: COVID or not, people just not being up to the task of driving or not adhering to the restrictions,” he said.

Since Christmas Day, troopers have responded to 184 collisions in King County alone and 615 incidents, which means cars getting stuck or spinning out.

“It’s busy,” he said. “If [people] can stay home, stay home. But remember, everything that you see right now is going to be freezing again tonight.”

WSDOT is working to put product down on freeways and main roads to mitigate the icy conditions and snow overnight, Johnson says, but drivers still need to be cautious.

“If you need to travel, make sure you have extra blankets, food, everything, just in case you get stuck. We’ll come and help you, but it may not be right away,” he said.

Tracking Seattle’s efforts to clear snow, ice off roads

For drivers who do get into a fender bender, Johnson says it is best to get your car off to the side of the road and not block traffic, if possible. But, he says, do not get out of the vehicle.

“The one thing we do not want people doing is getting out of their vehicles because they’re in a collision due to slippery conditions, if they get out of the vehicle and another vehicle slides, they’re in even more grave danger than having that metal surrounding you. So stay in your vehicle. Call us,” he said. “If you can move it to the side, great. But at the very least, I can’t say it enough: Stay in your vehicle and let us know.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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State trooper says slow down, ‘speed limit means nothing’ on icy roads