YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For many in the area, Friday’s morning commute was not the smooth ride to work it usually is.
Subzero temperatures gave way to lots of slippery roads, especially in areas where so-called black ice formed just as the morning rush was getting under way. In Youngstown alone, police said they handled nearly three dozen accidents, many of them along Interstate 680 and the Route 711 Connector.
Police said the calls started coming in around 6:30 a.m. and continued for 90 minutes.
Police said local towing and ambulance companies also had trouble handling the volume of calls. The worst incident may have occurred on the Route 711 connector near Vallourec Star and involved six or seven vehicles. It snarled traffic so badly that firefighters had trouble getting to the scene.
“I think people are distracted. They are on their cell phones, they are talking and they are not paying attention to what is going on. They have got to learn to use common sense. Go to the right when you see the lights and hear the siren and give us some access,” Youngstown Fire Department Capt. Gene Cook said. “The sides of the highway are all built up with all the snow that is packed up on it. You can’t get around anybody. And everything was just backed up and there was no easy access.”
All the crashes forced police to shutdown both highways and call neighboring agencies for help.
“We called a few of the areas to give us a hand on a few of the major thoroughfares, state patrol, Girard police. They also were tied up in their own jurisdictions with multiple crashes just as we were,” Younsgtown Police Lt. Bill Ross said.
Police said too much speed, and drivers following too closely, were the biggest factors in the accidents.
“It is common sense. You know, 50 is the posted speed limit. But with the road conditions out there, 35 to 40 would be the maximum speed you should try to go,” Ross said. “The crashes occurred and then the oncoming vehicles are going too fast to stop in the allotted distance.”Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.