The most recent set of storms battering the Northeast and Midwest have caused a number of deadly accidents and road closures across the eastern half of the country.
Distracted driving already causes about 20% of all accidents in the United States, and it is easier for those crashes to become serious when slippery winter conditions are involved. As of Feb. 16, The Weather Channel’s website attributed six total deaths to the storm pattern, named Neptune.
Three people were killed in accidents in Ohio, including one pregnant woman and her unborn child who were caught in a multi-car pileup on the Ohio Turnpike. In Indiana, a seven-year-old child died in another multi-vehicle accident on US-20.
Two people, a woman and a nine-year-old girl, were killed in an accident on the New York Thruway.
A crash involving 38 vehicles shut down an expressway in Chicago, with 12 people taken to local hospitals, but no fatalities.
Boston, which has already received historic snowfall levels this season, enacted yet another parking ban over the weekend and saw suspended service for some public transportation.
Crashes, as well as roof collapses, power outages and further blizzard warnings, threatened residents along the Eastern Seaboard from Maryland to Maine. In Maine and Massachusetts alone, nearly a quarter million people remained under blizzard warnings Monday.
Using Winter as a Cover
Winter conditions have caused so many accidents, in fact, that two drivers who have now been charged with driving while intoxicated in Sparta, NH, attempted to artificially cover an intersection with ice so that they could blame a crash on road conditions rather than an impaired state.
According to the local Daily Record newspaper, one of the men crashed a BMW and fled from the scene, then later returned with a friend to pour water over the street. The temperature recorded on the scene was 1 degree Fahrenheit.
An officer who came across the men found large buckets containing water in the back seat of the vehicle, prompting an investigation.
As of Feb. 16, police were not sure how many trips the men had made to bring water to the site, but the roadway had become too dangerous for driving due to the black ice created.
In order to make the street drivable again, the Department of Public Works dumped a half ton of salt on the scene.