Police respond to hundreds of crashes after snows coats central Indiana roads

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INDIANAPOLIS - Steady snowfall turned central Indiana roadways into a big mess Tuesday morning and afternoon, with temperatures expected to drop quickly Tuesday night.

Marion County emergency dispatchers reported more than 380 calls about crashes before 2 p.m. Tuesday.  Indiana State Police responded to 117 crashes on interstates in the Indianapolis metro area between 6 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Many drivers seemed to be caught off guard by slick conditions as heavy snow began coating Indiana roadways toward the end of the Tuesday morning rush hour.  Single-vehicle, slide-off accidents could be seen lining I-65 and I-465 as traffic slowly creeped by.

Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said he saw too many drivers failing to adjust to the worsening conditions Tuesday morning.

“We knew to be prepared, but people didn’t heed that warning,”  Perrine said.

In addition to drivers going to fast for the snowy conditions, Perrine said he observed too many distracted drivers.

“What I’ve seen a lot of today is people taking photographs while they’re driving of the snow or a crash,” Perrine said.

The Indiana Department of Transportation said more than 500 salt and plow trucks were deployed statewide Tuesday.  The Indianapolis Department of Public Works said more than 70 drivers were running routes on 12-hour shifts.  The salt trucks began by focusing on main, primary roadways, then moving to secondary streets.  Residential streets were not expected to be plowed unless six inches of snow fell.

After Tuesday’s snowfall, temperatures were expected to drop sharply Tuesday night, into the overnight hours.  Refreezing was expected to be a concern for the Wednesday morning commute.

DPW spokesperson Jennifer Hashem said road salt begins to lose effectiveness after pavement temperature drops below 15 degrees.  But she said DPW drivers would continue running their routes through the overnight hours.

“We will be prepared for that morning rush hour again as we head into Wednesday morning,” Hashem said.  “We do ask residents to give us space to do our jobs, especially if we need to plow or drop salt as necessary.”

If you are involved in a single-vehicle accident, Sgt Perrine said you don’t necessarily have to call police.

“If you, by yourself, spin out and hit the wall and you car is drivable, we highly recommend you drive off to the next exit,” Perrine said.  “Contact your insurance company first.  Your insurance company may not require a police report if it’s just a single vehicle crash.”

Calling the insurance company rather than police also frees up more officers to respond to serious crashes involving injuries and major backups, Perrine said.