At least 38 people have died as a result of the mammoth snowstorm that pounded the eastern U.S. The deaths occurred in car accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning, and from heart attacks while shoveling snow. At least four deaths involved incidents with snow plows.
In Kentucky, where two deaths had been reported through Monday afternoon, Kentucky transportation worker Christopher Adams died Saturday while plowing snow-covered highways. A 59-year-old Williamsburg, Ky., man died in the southeastern part of the state when his car collided with a salt truck Thursday.
A 66-year-old man in New York was struck and killed by a snow plow clearing his driveway just after 2 p.m. Sunday, and authorities in eastern Pennsylvania say a 56-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently after his car was buried in snow by a passing plow.
Here in Tennessee, two weather-related deaths were reported, both in East Tennessee:
— A car slid off the roadway due to speed and slick conditions, killing the driver and injuring a passenger, the Knox County sheriff’s department said.
— A couple in a vehicle slid off an icy road and plummeted down a 300-foot embankment Wednesday night, killing the woman who was driving, said Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford.
Tennessee Department of Transportation officials and TDOT workers in Moore County did as much as they could in preparation for the snowfall, which exceeded three inches in part of the county and grew even higher with strong winds creating snow drifts.
TDOT trucks were out well in advance of the snow prepping the roads. With more than 240 salt trucks and 240 snow plows, they were back on the road late Friday afternoon in an effort to keep up with the snow. Main roads were passable on Saturday, while many side roads remained tricky due to daytime melting and overnight freezing.
Moore County Schools, which closed at noon on Friday, were out again on Monday as school officials waited for the last roads to become safe for buses.
According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.
“We see extreme cold weather cause dead batteries and dangerous road conditions,” said Don Lindsey, Public Affairs Director, AAA Tennessee. “Preparing your vehicle before inclement weather strikes, can mean the difference of arriving at your destination, being stuck on the side of the road, or possibly even being involved in a crash.”
According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey of Tennessee Motorists’ habits during winter months, 68 percent check tire pressure; 61 percent check tire tread; 54 percent keep a blanket in their vehicle; 50 percent get vehicle maintenance before winter; and 34 percent test their battery.
“AAA encourages Tennesseans to plan ahead, drive distraction free, and take time to prepare your vehicle for winter weather driving conditions. These steps can help ensure you stay safe in the elements,” said Lindsey.
Authorities recommend carrying an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. Make sure to include the following items: charged cellular phone; blankets; food; water; medication; ice scraper; flashlight; hats; gloves; sand or cat litter.
Remember that trucks are heavier than cars. Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a com-plete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
AAA recommends staying off the roads in poor winter weather conditions, but if you absolutely must travel, AAA offers some tips to stay safe while driving on black ice. Reduce your speed, keep calm and do the following:
— Drive slowly and smoothly. Avoid sudden hard acceleration, braking or steering.
— With antilock brakes, use steady pressure – don’t pump. Pumping disables the antilock brakes and make a skid more likely.
— Keep as much distance from other vehicles as possible.
— Always wear the seat belt.
—By ROBERT HOLMAN, Publisher (firstname.lastname@example.org); Additional information from The Association Press, and from AAA Consumer Group reports