Keeping motorists off the roadways reduced the number of Columbus traffic accidents after a snow storm struck the Chattahoochee Valley and parts of the South last week.
Between Jan. 28, the day of the storm, and Jan. 30 when black ice remained on many streets, Columbus police were called to 41 accidents with five injuries and 163 vehicles. Police Lt. Tony Danford said the city would have experienced many more accidents on roads if schools, the Columbus Consolidated Government and other businesses hadn't shutdown to keep employees and students off the streets.
"If it had been a normal day and people went to work, we probably would have had hundreds of accidents," Danford said. "People didn't and that is what really held it down for us. Everybody did what they should do."
Police normally work 15 to 20 accidents on a busy day. Mondays and Fridays are usually busy days for accidents.
Of the total accidents during the snow storm, police said five vehicles went out of control, three were following too close, two were backing improperly and one made an improper turn. At least 20 motorists were going too fast for the icy conditions and 25 accidents were related to the weather conditions.
In Alabama and across the state of Georgia, troopers were called to a combined 2,130 accidents during the same time period. Alabama had 609 and Georgia totaled 1,521 accidents.
Accidents in Georgia included 184 injuries and two fatalities, one in Coweta County and another in Henry County. State troopers also had to assist more than 1,185 motorists.
Troopers in Alabama normally work an average of 84 accidents daily but had almost three times that many with 249 on the day the storm struck.
People who were traveling the road couldn't do much after the vehicle went out of control on a sheet of ice.
"A lot of times the situation they were finding themselves in, there was really nothing they would do," Danford said. "Even if you were going 10 to 15 mph, the roads would just be sheets of ice. If the car got out of shape a little bit, then all of a sudden they were involved in something they wouldn't prevent. Once they started sliding they couldn't stop it."
Reducing the speed also made a difference for many drivers. "When people were out, they weren't going fast," Danford said. "They weren't flying. They kept the speed down."