Kansas City, Missouri (KCTV) — On the Missouri side of the metro alone, there were more than 200 wrecks in just the first half of the day Monday.
MODOT and Kansas City Police said the frigid temperatures had a lot to do with that, and that cold won’t let up to melt the snow for several days to come.
Spinning tires were a common site in the Kansas City metro, not just on hills but on flat main thoroughfares. The peak time for wrecks were during the morning rush hour but they continued into the night.
“It has been several years since it’s been this bad,” said Kansas City, Missouri Police Sgt. Michael Mahoney. “It’s not like normal snow days we get in Kansas City. This one’s much slicker.”
The problem isn’t plowing but melting.
MODOT says the frigid cold and lack of sun means their corrosive materials aren’t as effective.
“We have the rock salt. We have sand. We have things like that that can act to just give people some traction on the roads, but still there is an issue with just getting anything to melt,” said Melissa Black MODOT’s Kansas City District communications manager.
The KCPD added up the number of 911 calls about wrecks from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., the typical morning rush hours. They had 106 such calls in those five hours. The previous Monday they had 12 during that time frame.
Missouri Highway Patrol’s Troop A, which covers thirteen counties around the metro, recorded 125 crashes from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
KC SCOUT reported 12 wrecks that either partially or totally closed thoroughfares.
Mahoney said slick roads were only part of the problem. Visibility was another.
“With the windshields it’s pretty much the same principle as we’re seeing on the streets. You’ll have snow or misting snow that will hit the windshield and melt, but then it re-freezes,” Mahoney said.
That means you need to crank the front and rear defrost full blast, nearly nonstop, to the point where you might be sweating inside.
Police warn that if you do slide off the road, you should stay inside your car. If your disabled car is not causing a hazard, the best option may be to call a friend for a ride.
“Sometimes it’s the best move to just leave the vehicle until after rush hour when there’s less of a threat to you and to others and have a tow come get it at a later time,” said Mahoney.
The volume of wrecks means if no one is hurt and you’re not blocking traffic, police are not dispatching officers. You’ll need to file a report at your local patrol station.
During the evening rush hours of 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. there were 41 calls for traffic accidents, compared to 12 the previous Monday. That slight improvement from the morning rush hour might be due to people who saw how bad it was and adjusted their driving behavior later in the day.
“Often people are unaware of the conditions until they get out in it,” said Mahoney, “and then it’s too late.”
Still, there were numerous slide offs after night fell. Between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., there were at least two slide offs on I-435 between Eastwood Trafficway and 63rd Street, one of them involving a semi. Shortly before 9:30 p.m. police shut down northbound lanes of US 71 Highway due to a multi-vehicle crash and requested a salt truck prior to re-opening the highway.
Most wrecks came without injuries. The KCPD did respond to one wreck that killed a man. At approximately 2:30 p.m., near Lees Summit Road and Woods Chapel, a tank truck went off the road and hit a tree. The driver was alone in the truck and died soon after being taken to the hospital. Police don’t know if he slid on ice or wrecked due to a medical condition causing him to lose control.
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