Return of significant snow brings slew of crashes

Ottawa County, snowy roads, crash
A crash on snowy roads in Ottawa County on Dec. 7, 2017.

GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies traveled all over the county Thursday responding to crashes after West Michigan’s first significant snowfall of the season.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said in a release it responded to 119 calls before noon for traffic incidents involving vehicles sliding off the road, property damage and injury crashes. The sheriff’s office said the majority of the crashes were on I-96 between Coopersville and Nunica, as well as the southern part of the county.

As of 1:25 p.m., there had been 75 property damage crashes, 11 injury crashes and 33 reports of vehicles sliding off the road, authorities said.

Despite the high volume of crashes, authorities said there were no life-threatening injuries as of noon.

Due to the frequency of incidents, authorities reminded drivers to slow down and drive carefully in the snowy conditions.

>>Inside Traffic conditions

Ottawa County Road Commission spokesman Zach Russell told 24 Hour News 8 how the county was prepared for the weather, but didn’t lay down any salt or sand before the snow started falling.

“Nothing on the roads other than just monitoring, and as soon as the conditions become to the point where we start treating it, then we get out there and treat it as soon as possible,” he said.

Russell said the salt and sand treatment on the roads doesn’t start until the snow does.

“It doesn’t tend to work very well on bare roads,” he explained. “Sand will give you traction, whereas salt just melts the snow, so you have to wait until there’s a little bit more of snow packed on the roads.”

The lake effect near Hudsonville.

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When asked anything could have been done different to the roads, Russell responded by saying Thursday was “pretty typical” for a first snow.

“I don’t think that’s anything out of the ordinary…I think we try to remind people as much as we can that you have to drive carefully on the first snow, but it still catches people by surprise,” he said.

Macatawa Driving School owner Rob Ockerse had a similar message, urging you to drive carefully. Although that’s a constant message to his students, it’s reinforced this time of year when slick, snowy roads return.

“Every year we kind of wake up to this weather and we have to relearn it,” Ockerse said.

He had four tips for drivers hitting the snow again after months of dry pavement:

  • Keep it slow,
  • Give yourself plenty of time to stop,
  • Be aware of other vehicles around you,
  • Stay in control — try to keep all tires on the pavement.



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