Commuters snarled by interstate accidents

The metro area’s blast of wintry weather left commuters snarled on slick roads and had dozens of others involved in car accidents and fender benders following the first winter storm of the 2002 holiday season.

The common denominator in most of the accidents was speed, according to Lucy Caldwell, state police spokeswoman.

Prince William County police received 50 accident reports between midnight and Thursday afternoon, although there were no major collisions and no fatalities, said Detective Dennis Mangan, Prince William police spokesman.

Manassas police received nine reports of accidents as a result of the snow, Sgt. Marc Woolverton, city police spokesman said Thursday. Woolverton said none of the incidents was serious.

People were driving too fast on interstates 95 and 66 as well, Caldwell said. State police believe speed was the cause of 10 rollovers that occurred on area interstates by 1 p.m. Thursday. Only minor injuries were reported. She said there were dozens of other minor accidents along the highways.

“There’s a lot of slush on the highways and people are traveling too fast,” Caldwell said. Most of the interstates were cleared by Thursday afternoon, but there were still many dangerous, non-passable spots on the road. It was in those spots that people lost control of their cars, police said.

“There are parts that are slushy and icy. There are areas where [the road] is not passable, even though it may look clear,” Caldwell said. “What we get concerned about is people who don’t take that seriously.”

Back roads and others that are not main thoroughfares had not improved much by Thursday afternoon, Caldwell said.

“The back roads in Prince William County are still in terrible shape,” she said. “The interstates were passable as of about noon. If you can make it to the interstates, you’ll fare well, but getting out of your driveway is tough.”

Prince William police suggest that in the event of any more winter weather, motorists drive slowly. “If they drive, they should drive slow,” Mangan said. “People should make sure they have their headlights on. They should make sure their car is in good working order and make sure they have snow tires or all-weather tires.”

Manassas City police declared a snow emergency Thursday at 10 a.m.

“Vehicles parked or abandoned on any designated snow emergency route are subject to be ticketed and towed by city police officers,” Sgt. Marc Woolverton, Manassas Police spokesman said in a press release.

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