Icy roads give motorists problems

Accidents commonplace outside city limits

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In a 14-hour stretch from just after 9 a.m. until l1 p.m. Wednesday, 10 motor vehicle accidents were called in to Routt County dispatch -- and those were just the accidents called in.

Inclement weather, most notably December rain showers, made travel slushy and forced drivers to exercise some caution on roads.

When temperatures dipped below freezing, however, the wet roads turned icy, and conditions worsened further for motorists in Routt County, most notably outside city limits.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brett Hilling said the secondary roads in the county were the first to worsen, and the main roads were next, keeping the State Patrol and the Routt County Sheriff's Office busy.

"I think almost all the accidents were out in the country," said Sgt. Dale Coyner of the Steamboat Springs Police Department. "We didn't have that big of a problem, although it was very slick out."

Trooper Hilling said he and several fellow patrollers responded to accidents on county roads before shifting attention to U.S. Highway 40 after it became glossed over with a sheet of ice.

A few accidents involved minor injuries, and one woman was extricated from her vehicle after a rollover on U.S. 40 near mile marker 127 at 10:11 p.m., Hilling said. She suffered unknown injuries, he added.

Another accident with injuries was reported at 9:50 p.m. on U.S. 40 near mile marker 117. A woman lost control of her vehicle, and it crossed into the westbound lane before striking a guardrail. Her daughter was in the passenger's seat, and both suffered minor injuries from air bag deployment, Hilling said.

"It's really important to be aware of temperature changes during the course of the day, especially when storm fronts are moving in," said Mark Cox, director at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs. "Icy roads are more slippery when the temperature is closer to freezing than when it's closer to zero."

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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