NEW ORLEANS — In Southeast Louisiana, icy roads aren’t something we’re used to dealing with. That’s why driving on them creates both a challenge and a safety concern.
“Any time that conditions deteriorate to this point where ice develops on the roadway, that is a major problem for our motorists,” said Louisiana State Trooper Brent Hardy.
Trooper Hardy said if you don’t need to be driving when those icy conditions take hold, don’t.
“Even though we don’t see these conditions very often in Louisiana it’s really important not to take this lightly,” said Hardy.
Hardy said roads are at their slickest when freezing rain or sleet first begin. He said that's what happened in Texas Thursday, causing a deadly pileup on the interstate.
“It’s very tragic and that happened whenever the roadway just started to ice up. One crash can lead to many crashes very quickly,” said Hardy.
The National Weather Service notes the potential for a wintery mix Monday evening for areas on the Northshore and river parishes making dangerous road conditions part of the forecast.
“It will not be a lot of time for the rain to evaporate off of our roads,” said St. Tammany Parish Director of Homeland Security Clarence Powe.
Powe said he’s paying close attention to Interstate 12, which stretches the entire parish.
“Anybody that’s on Interstate 12, you know, that traffic runs 70, 75 to 80 miles per hour. Well, with freezing conditions you just can’t run like that,” said Powe.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 17 percent of all vehicle crashes to happen during winter conditions. When driving on icy roads, accelerate and decelerate slowly, increase your following distance, don’t use cruise control and most importantly slow down. Because of airflow, bridges can ice over much faster than roads.
“We’re talking about the law of physics. You can’t defeat the law of physics. They’re going to win every single time,” said Dan Robinson who founded icyroadsafety.com.
Robinson uses the website to teach drivers how to deal with icy conditions. If you find yourself skidding out of control, Robinson says don’t hit the brakes and steer into the skid. Simply meaning if the back end of your car is skidding to the right, then steer to the right.
“I know it’s kind of confusing. Another way to put it is to turn where you want the car to go,” said Robinson. “So, keep your eyes pointed where you want to go, then turn your wheel in that direction.”