by Donna McCollum
On the straightaways, the traffic moves at a swift pace down the roadways of East Texas. That's some of the problem. When motorists hit bridges, overpasses, and upward grades ice patches can send them sliding.
Motorists were hitting guardrails, one another, and even flipping over on the way to work Wednesday morning. The mishaps were repeated around evening time as temperatures began to drop once again.
Truckers took a detour, nice and slow, on the Nacogdoches west loop. Others played it extra safe and parked the big rigs.
Joe Ramos began his journey in Michigan. He's critical of Texas drivers who don't pay attention.
"What's going on is Texans sometimes don't know how to drive on the ice, and if you don't pay attention to the road, it is a dangerous situation." Ramos even knows that professional drivers can have problems. "About 80 miles from here, there's a big 18-wheeler down in the ditch because he took the curve too fast. Hey, I don't know if he had experience or not, but he's down there right now, so be careful over there."
The Texas Department of Transportation is attempting to keep the roadways clear. It holds to a strict policy to gravel roads only after ice forms. When graveled too soon, the ice only forms over the gravel, so monitoring the situation is important.
Area engineer David Selman said, "Some of our engineering crews are inspectors. Since our construction jobs are shut down, what they're doing is helping go out and inspect some of the bridges, and some of them have even helped to rock the bridges."
With public safety in mind, the Department of Public Safety office staff closed down. Troopers didn't have that privilege. They're out there reminding folks how to drive.
Trooper Adam Sweany advised, "Decrease your speed. Do not have cruise control on. That will cause an accident. Also, limit braking and big acceleration on the bridges, and that will help you cross it safely."