Experience on icy roads leads to questions on sanding policy

Posted: Thursday, December 02, 2004

The recent news about all the accidents and deaths caused by drivers hitting black ice or having accidents on our icy roads prompts me to relate my recent experience.

My wife and I were returning from Anchorage in the middle of the night a while back and in Cooper landing I lost control on some black ice and slid off the road into the deep ditch filled with ice and water, narrowly missing an oncoming semi.

I called 911 and talked to the State Trooper dispatcher whom arranged for a tow truck. A few minutes after my call a state sanding truck went by and my wife and I noted the coincidence of the timing of the sand truck, and it made two more passes, three in all.

Everything progressed fine from there, but curiosity prompted me to make some inquiries as to the timing of the sand truck. I was told that the sanders don't go out until they receive a call from the Troopers notifying them that someone has slid off the road; that way the sand truck drivers will receive a higher pay rate for having to work under hazardous conditions.

If true, isn't that totally amazing, not to mention scary? I can easily visualize my pickup imbedded in the radiator of that semi. Of all the money spent on highway safety, how better could it be used to save life and limb than to sand the damn roads before an accident rather of after?

Bob Estes, Soldotna

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