Last week’s ice storm and frigid temperatures caused more than school cancellations. Several car accidents in the area around ACU kept the ACU Police Department busy while students took a break from classes.
During the week of Feb. 22-March 3, 28 separate ice-related incidents were reported, said ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison.
“Those were mostly minor accidents, at least the ones around the ACU area,” he said.
Those were only a small fraction of the car accidents around the city that same week with a total of 286 ice-related car accidents in Abilene alone, according to the Abilene Police.
Ellison said most of the accidents around the university can be attributed to drivers with inexperience driving on icy roads.
“A lot of those accidents are just people not used to driving on the ice or not driving according to the conditions,” he said.
While many students do not have much experience driving in icy conditions, some from other states are used to it and said they weren’t troubled by it.
“My dad is from New York, and my mom is from Washington, D.C., so they taught me how to drive in the snow and ice,” said Danielle Boyle, elementary education major from Atlanta. “You just have to be careful and know what to do in certain situations. If you don’t know how, it’s better to stay off the road than put others in danger.”
The Texas Department of Transportation recommends maintaining “at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice” as drivers would in normal conditions.
“The biggest problem people have on the ice is they don’t leave ample distance between themselves and other cars,” said Ellison. “You can’t leave the same distance between you and the car in front of you when you’re traveling on ice as you can on dry pavement.”
Even driving slowly and carefully, it can still be difficult to travel safely during inclement weather like Abilene experienced last week. The easiest fix, Ellison said, is to stay off the roads completely.
“The more people will stay off the roads, the fewer accidents we would have,” said Ellison.
Despite 28 separate incidents, Ellison said he believes ACU experienced fewer accidents than in previous years with snow days.
“Generically speaking, I think there were fewer this time around,” he said. “One of the reasons is that the ice events that we’ve had recently are typically one or two days, where in years past, they might be three or four days in duration.”