Eleven people lost their lives on Iowa roadways Friday and Saturday on roads made slick from freezing rain. Iowa State Patrol spokesman Scott Bright says it was the deadliest weekend he’s seen in his 24 years in law enforcement. “We believe the road conditions played a factor in most of the fatalities,” according to Bright.
The Iowa Department of Transportation treated highways with a mixture of sand and salt on Friday, but State Safety Engineer, Jan Lasser-Webb, says they still had to warn divers of dangerous conditions. “It’s not like snow where you can melt it off immediately. If freezing rain is coming down on the frozen ground, you’ve got a problem unless you’ve got salt on every square foot of that,” Lasser-Webb says.
She says they started warning drivers of the potentially dangerous situation on Thursday. “It’s not just sad, it’s also frustrating because we want to prevent these crashes,” Lasser-Webb says. “We want to get people the information they need to make the decision not to go out on those roads.”
The 11 deaths start out 2014 on a bad note after 2013 ended up with 318 traffic deaths for the whole year–the lowest annual total since 1944. This year’s traffic fatality count is already up to 14 with barely half a month completed.