Crashes spike in past week due to weather, authorities say.
TUMALO, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Slick road conditions led to several vehicle slide-offs on Cline Falls Highway at Beaver Lane Monday morning, prompting Deschutes County sheriff's deputies to close the highway for at least half an hour. The road reopened before noon Monday.
Law enforcement officials warn drivers to take extra precautions while driving as snow begins melting, then re-freezing into slush and ice on the roads.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reports deputies were dispatched to about 117 weather-related crashes since last Monday. The Bend Police Department's count almost echoes the county's. Bend PD's Lt. Juli McConkey told NewsChannel 21 police have been dispatched to about 130 crashes, most due to the weather, in the past week.
"The highest volume of crashes we got was last Tuesday, when the snow started to fall," McConkey said. "Within those 24 hours, there were 58 crashes, which is a lot of crashes in that short amount of timeframe.”
Fortunately, few reported crashes have led to serious injuries. However, damage to vehicles has been on the rise.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with a couple auto shops and tow companies in Bend to find out how the past week's weather and crashes have impacted their businesses.
Ramon Altamirano, supervisor for On Track Auto Truck and Tire in Bend, said the company towed 17 to 20 cars in the past week. He said some of the vehicles had to be towed from Sisters to their shop in Bend.
His advice for drivers, especially those new to Central Oregon, is to get the proper tires -- and drive slowly. However, he said people who have all-wheel drive vehicles are not exempt from car accidents.
"I think people put a lot of confidence into what their vehicle has and their four-wheel drive systems," Altamirano said. "They just get a little overconfident with things and kind of push their vehicle more than they should."
Altamirano said people should also be aware of tow trucks and roadside assistance workers on the side of the road.
"Especially for us! If you see a tow truck on the side of the road, please move over, because we’d like to have that safety space for us," Altamirano said.