Icy roads force renewed focus on winter safety
By 2nd Lt. Adrian Mateos, 173rd Medical Group
/ Published January 19, 2016
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Fog blanketed the Klamath Basin, Oct. 30. The spouse of a 173rd Medical Group Airman was traveling to work, only one mile away from Kingsley Field.
Suddenly, she saw a stop sign emerge from the fog and she realized too late that road was covered in black ice. She was traveling too fast to stop, and to make matters worse an oncoming car was converging on the intersection at the same time. In an attempt to evade the vehicle, in which a mother and her two young children were traveling, she accelerated through the intersection.
In any event her effort proved futile; she impacted the car on the front, sending it into a spin. The violence of that impact sent the Airman's wife into a canal, narrowly missing a telephone pole that killed someone last year in a similar accident. The steep angle of the canal caused the vehicle to flip over and it came to rest on its roof.
Both cars were a total loss but no significant injuries occurred due to God's will and the fact that everyone was using seatbelts and the cars were well maintained. Law enforcement stated that if any of these were not the case, fatalities were highly likely.
We can all learn from this situation; here are a few important points to take from this accident.
First, many traffic accidents happen within a two-mile radius of our final destination because we get complacent when habit takes over our driving. Don't let your guard down just because you've driven a particular stretch of road hundreds of times. Also, take the time to inspect your car, understand its safety features and what they do to protect you in an accident, and be prepared in the event you need to free yourself from these safety mechanisms in a time-critical situation. Take advantage of modern technology to enhance your situational awareness by checking road conditions using a smart phone or a navigator, or check https://tripcheck.com before driving in cold weather.
Finally, communicate to prevent placing yourself or others in risky travel situations. Speak with your supervisor if the road conditions or the weather require extra caution.