Frigid temperatures prevented road salt from melting black ice, and more than 90 cars slid off local roads and got into accidents Thursday night through Friday morning, police said.
Less than an inch of snow fell around the county starting about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, but local police responded to dozens of slide-offs and accidents until early Friday.
Overnight, Bargersville police called in three extra officers to handle the high number of accidents, and Indiana State Police asked semitrailer drivers to move their rigs that were parked at exit ramps because officers were concerned other motorists would slide into them when attempting to stop.
Local police say most of the accidents were weather-related, with motorists hitting black ice, not being able to stop and sliding off the road or hitting the vehicle in front of them.
By the numbers
Slide-offs and accidents reported Thursday night and Friday morning around Johnson County:
Johnson County: 20 slide-offs, 15 accidents
Franklin: 10 slide-offs, 13 accidents
Greenwood: 8 slide-offs, 7 accidents
Bargersville: 10 slide-offs, 8 accidents
The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to remain cold and two more inches of snow to fall today, which means motorists could face similar road conditions throughout the weekend. Motorists should give themselves extra time to get to where they are going and should leave plenty of space behind the vehicles in front of them, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said.
County and city street department employees salted local roads throughout the night to get rid of the black ice, but when the temperature drops below 25 degrees, the salt stops working as effectively, county highway director Luke Mastin said.
Thursday night, the temperature dropped to 5 degrees.
“We’ve put more on, but it’s still very difficult to melt ice at extremely cold temperatures,” Mastin said.
Franklin street department employees started salting streets about 6:45 p.m. Thursday but stopped shortly after midnight because the roads were freezing faster than they could put salt down, street commissioner Ron Collins said.
“We were just spinning our wheels because five or 10 minutes after it would break up, it would refreeze,” he said.
Collins said salt truck drivers were back on the roads Friday morning and were salting and clearing intersections, where motorists have to stop and start quickly.
County highway employees also struggled to clear roads as winds up to 25 mph blew snow onto already cleared paths, Mastin said. The winds had died down by Friday morning, but he said drifts could have caused some of the accidents.
Local police say many of the slide-offs and accidents took place on highways. Franklin police responded to five accidents on U.S. 31 and seven accidents on Interstate 65. Bargersville police responded to eight accidents on State Road 135 and three on State Road 37.
In one accident on I-65, a motorist was on the bridge over State Road 44 when her car began to slide on the ice-covered roadway and hit a guardrail, according to a Franklin Police Department report.
In another accident on State Road 144, a motorist told police she couldn’t stop on the ice and hit a car that was stopped in front of her, according to a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office report.
Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matt Fillenwarth stopped for two accidents on his way home Thursday night and said sections of U.S. 31 south of Whiteland Road seemed to have more ice than other areas.
“We had a little bit of snow, and it hit the street and stuck. With the cars driving on it, it glazed over like a sheet of ice,” Fillenwarth said.