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Accidents abound after storm in Michiana

February 10, 2010|By DAVE STEPHENS Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND — The recent snowfall, mixed with the occasional bad-driving decision, resulted in more than 130 traffic accidents in St. Joseph County, although few resulted in injuries. In South Bend, police responded to more than 70 traffic accidents, the majority being minor fender-benders and road slide-offs. South Bend police spokesman Capt. Phil Trent said that falling snow throughout the day Tuesday, including during morning and evening rush hours, kept officers busy responding to calls throughout the city. Most of the accidents, he said, were caused by poor road conditions and drivers who failed to allow enough stopping space between vehicles. But some of the those accidents, both St. Joseph County and South Bend police reports show, all shared two common themes: fast speeds on the U.S. 20 and 31 bypass. Sgt. Bill Redman said the higher speed limit on the bypass gives drivers less time to respond to patches of snow or ice, which can form within minutes of a snowplow’s passing. "Often time even driving the posted speed limit is not a good idea," Redman said. Because of the high number of accidents, police said drivers in minor accidents — in which no one is injured and both cars are still operational — can exchange names and insurance information instead of waiting for a police car to respond. Both Trent and Redman said that before agreeing to a name exchange, however, drivers should make sure to get as much information as possible about the other driver and vehicle, including license plate information, insurance policy number, and the person’s telephone number, name and address. Redman said some insurance companies won’t accept a name-exchange accident report and insist on one completed by an officer. "It’s something people should contact and ask their insurance agent about," Redman said. But even with milder weather expected for the rest of the week, both Trent and Redman said their basic message to drivers will remain the same. "I know it sounds repetitive, but just slow down," Redman said. "That will solve most of the problems." Staff writer Dave Stephens: dstephens@sbtinfo.com (574) 235-6209

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