Arkansas State Troopers have spent the last two days assisting motorists who have been involved in accidents on snow or ice covered highways.
Most of the motor vehicle crashes involved simple single-vehicle “slide-offs” as drivers lost control and slid into highway ditches or medians.
One Arkansas State Trooper was injured about 9 a.m. Friday when his patrol car was struck from the rear along the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the White River.
Corporal Damon Dobson, 37, of Monroe County, was transported to a Stuttgart hospital for examination. Dobson’s injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
Dobson had been investigating a motor vehicle crash and was inside his patrol car when a pick-up truck struck the State Police patrol car.
Matt Rice, chief deputy for the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, said Faulkner County hasn’t experienced many accidents.
“We haven’t had too many problems,” he said. “The county judge has kept salt on the roads, and we have a few extra people out there.”
Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson is working with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office to keep salt and sand on some of the more treacherous roads in the county.
Dodson also declared an emergency early Friday afternoon to request AM General HMMWV-based ambulances (Humvees) to deal with the icy roads.
Humvee ambulances come from the Arkansas National Guard and guardsmen are going to drive them with local MEMS paramedics tending to patients in the back. They are be dispatched by 9-1-1 as normal.
This sort of state and federal aid is available to counties that have declared an emergency, which generally only a county judge is authorized to do.
Although things have been safe in the county, Rice said, the state police have had some pretty serious accidents on the highways.
Several stretches of Arkansas Interstates 40 and 55 were frequent scenes of jack-knifed 18-wheelers which involved state troopers temporarily blocking portions of the highway while recovery crews worked to clear the highways. Large commercial carrier trucks were also stalled along U.S. 65 in Searcy County and Highway 7 in Newton County.
The highway department anticipates conditions across Arkansas to worsen through the night Saturday as the result of colder weather expected to sweep across the state. Unless it is absolutely necessary or an emergency, highway travel across much of the state is not recommended.
Rice says if you don’t have to get out, then don’t.
“The main roads are okay, but the secondary roads are still pretty icy,” he said.
Rice said he thinks the roads that have melted will refreeze Saturday night resulting in dangerous driving conditions on Sunday.
“The sun has helped us out today, but I imagine the roads will refreeze over night,” he said.
State Police Troop radio and telephone dispatchers request citizens limit their calls to emergency calls only. Statewide information with the latest highway and road conditions can be obtained by calling (800) 245-1672 or viewing the State Highway & Transportation Department map website at IDriveArkansas.com.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.