Ice and snow, here we go |

Ice and snow, here we go

Christina Proctor

Last weekend’s winter storm wasn’t unexpected, but it still caught people unprepared.

The snow and ice on the roadways caused numerous accidents and at least two fatalities. Chains or snow tires were required on almost all the mountain passes during the storm that aside from heavy winds was relatively mild.

The California Highway Patrol office on the South Shore reported nine minor collisions between Friday and Sunday mostly caused by people driving too fast for the conditions and losing control.

On Friday a multi-car collision on U.S. Highway 50 near Glenbrook caused the death of a 2-year-old boy, and a solo-car accident on U.S. Highway 80 east of Yuba Gap killed a 14-year-old Sacramento teen.

The Truckee office of the CHP reported an eight-car collision Friday afternoon on a icy bridge on U.S. Highway 80 near Truckee. Nine people were hurt in the pile up, three of them seriously.

Steve Schnoebelen, a CHP officer in the Gold Run office, said there is a real problem with fatalities in the Sierras involving people from the Bay Area.

“Last year six out of eight traffic fatalities were from the Bay Area. People are coming up unprepared for the conditions and not reducing their driving speed. They fail to drive as the conditions warrant. This has historically been a problem that’s gone on year after year,” Schnoebelen said.

Schnoebelen said the inexperienced drivers are not just dangerous to themselves, but everyone on the roadway.

“A lot of them have four-wheel drives. I guess they see the commercials and think they can go anywhere and do anything,” Schnoebelen said. “All four-wheel drives do is give you more traction to get started in snow it does nothing on ice or to reduce stopping distance.”

All California lake residents should now be carrying at least one set of tire chains in their vehicles. Motorists are required to carry chains when snow conditions are possible. On the Nevada side of the lake drivers are only required to have chains in chain control areas and on roadways where chains are mandatory. Studded snow tires are now legally allowed on both California and Nevada roadways.

Last weekend residents also got refamiliarized with the chain control rules. California has three different control levels. An R-1 requires that two-wheel drive vehicles install chains on the drive axle unless the drive axle has snow tires installed. A mud or snow tire usually has a tread depth of around 11/32 inches to 12/32 inches. When the tire depth is worn to below 6/32 in depth it no longer qualifies as a snow tire and the vehicle must be chained up in a chain control area. An R-2 requires chains regardless of the type of tires, but four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires are authorized. An R-3 forbids any two-wheel vehicle from traveling and four-wheel drives must have chains on one drive axle. The speed limit in a chain control area is 25 mph. U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit was R-2 control most of the weekend.

The CHP recommends practicing putting on tire chains at home before the need arises out on the roadway.

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